Thirteen traffic police officials were reportedly suspended from duty following a complaint from a Chinese driver. The man, who claimed that traffic police officers on National Road 3 in Takeo province had fined him $50 for speeding, but provided no receipt, posted his complaint to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s offical Facebook page. The case is under investigation.

The Takeo provincial police’s Quick Reaction Unit announced on January 7 that the incident happened on January 1 when 13 members of the Road Traffic Police Force, led by Brigadier General Chea Hak, were conducting operations near Champol village, in Tram Kak’s Popel commune.

Police said the officers recorded a silver car travelling at 106km/h, well in excess of the posted speed limit. According to the law, exceeding the speed limit by 26 km/h is punishable by a fine of 150,000 riel.

As the police explained this to the driver, he denied that he had been speeding and behaved aggressively towards the officers.

The man refused to call his interpreter, and filmed the police officers despite being asked not to. He slapped the table and continued to speak aggressively.

“Because they could not communicate with the man and did not want to cause more trouble, the officers allowed the man to drive away. They did not demand $100 or accept $50, as the man alleges, but showed him the correct fine,” said the quick reaction team.

The Post could not reach the Chinese national for comment, but according to the January 6 Facebook post, from the account Cui Jian, he was travelling from Phnom Penh on January 1. When he was stopped by the police, they claimed he was 30km/h over the speed limit. He suspected that their measurement was inaccurate.

“Because they saw I am Chinese, they demanded I pay them $100, with no receipt,” he said in his post.

“I took photographs of them as evidence of their corruption, but five officers took my phone from me and deleted the images. They also assaulted me, and then let me leave after I gave them $50,” he added.

Takeo provincial police chief Chheang Phannara told The Post on January 8 that to reassure the public, he had ordered an investigation to determine the truth of what happened.

He said the officers had strongly denied the man’s allegations.

“I have contacted the Chinese man who posted the complaint to the prime minister’s page. I have asked him to come in and share his account of what happened. We need to hear both sides before we arrive at a conclusion,” he added.

Takeo provincial police chief Chhoeng Ratanak told local media that the 13 police officers have been suspended while the investigation takes place.

Kim Panha, director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, said on January 8 that on behalf of civil society organisations, he supported the strict and consistent implementation of the law, but with transparency.

He suggested that law enforcement agencies review a number of options, such as the introduction of cameras that can record law enforcement activities. It this way, false allegations could be easily disproven. Another option was to conduct traffic stops in front of security cameras.

“If there were security cameras nearby, there would be no argument. We would know immediately who was right and who was wrong. I do not know what the solution to this particular complaint is,” he said.