Three on-the-run police officers accused of beating a man to death have been called before the Kandal Provincial Court, following the questioning of their fellow policemen and villagers who witnessed the beating last week.
Sa’ang district Deputy Police Chief Pheadey Vitou, 33; head of Police Immigration Bureau Chhay Sina, 33; and District Deputy Chief of Forensic Police Kheang Songtheng, 31, have been summonsed to answer questions before the court, some six months after the death of Chamroeun Seyha, 26.
The three repeatedly claimed Seyha was killed by a mob of villagers who suspected him of theft – which was roundly contradicted by other witnesses.
Vitou, Sina and Songtheng were fired from their posts in March for failing to appear at work. Their superior, Sa’ang District Police Chief Seng Socheat, confirmed he appeared at court on April 26 to answer investigating judge Hok Vanthina’s questions about the “aggravated violence” the officers allegedly committed.
“The case is not involved with us and we are just witnesses. The one who committed it was Pheadey Vitou, Chhay Sina and Kheang Songtheng, who must face the investigating judge and prosecutor because they are the ones who are responsible for it in face of the law,” Socheat said. “We have not known yet whether they came to appear at the court or not . . . It is up to the investigating judge and prosecutor to decide [if they are guilty].”
Khim Sok Hai, Prek Koy deputy commune police chief, was present on the day Seyha was killed, but maintains the officers’ innocence. “I have seen some villagers having beaten him and they beat me too, but some people and some radio [stations] did not report [this], because they are biased against the authorities,” he said.
Around five police were called to answer questions, as well as around 10 villagers. Investigating Judge Hok Vanthina declined to comment yesterday.
Mak Bunna, believed to be a lawyer for the absent trio, claimed yesterday he was merely an assistant in their case and also declined to comment.
The victim’s wife, Khuon Sreymom, said she had seen the police officers’ lawyers in the courtroom. After the killing, she received $20,000 in compensation for her loss and was questioned in court about her use of those funds.
“This compensation money would not be worth my husband’s life . . . He worked and got paid more than this to support our family, but we have no choice. We need to take the money to support my children,” she said.