Koh Chiveang commune residents have filed a complaint to the Ek Phnom district authorities in Battambang province accusing the 508th Military Police unit of extorting money from local fishermen.
Ek Phnom district governor Mil Sophil told local media that his team had received reports from a number of villagers, some of whom are fishermen from Koh Chiveang commune.
They urged the authorities to step in and remove the officers from the 508th unit and other involved units that had allegedly extorted money from fishermen on the Tonle Sap river.
“In their report, the villagers blamed all military police units but mainly focused on the 508th unit which claimed the [fishermen] had committed some illegal crimes in a prohibited area of the river."
“This was an excuse to extort money from them. The people became furious and demand that those from the unit be removed,” he said.
“We have already prepared a report which we will send to the higher authorities soon. After the report is reviewed at the district level, we will send it to the provincial authorities next week,” said Sophil.
The Post obtained a copy of the report from the district authorities, which said the head of the 508th unit had demanded money from the people.
“The military police did not protect people. They arrested some and demanded $10,000. We want officers of the unit who extorted money from us to be removed,” the report says.
Rights group Adhoc’s senior officer Soeng Senkarona said the crackdown was unreasonable.
“The officers carry out clampdowns on powerless people while the rich and the powerful are untouched. People are not very happy about this,” Senkarona said.
National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy could not be reached for comment as of press time.