Phnom Penh municipal police chief Sar Thet has demoted and suspended traffic police officers stationed at the Tonle Bassac intersection with Mao Tse Tung Boulevard after they were caught fining a motorist who did not commit any violations.

Municipal police spokesman San Sokseyha said on October 25 that of the four officers stationed at the busy intersection, two had been demoted and suspended for three months. The two others were contract officials who were not involved in the case directly but were suspended as well because they were present at the location and failed to report their colleagues’ wrongdoing.

“The two officials from the traffic bureau were demoted with one stripe stripped,” he said.

In an October 25 press release, the municipal police said that after video of the incident went viral on social media, Thet ordered that the officers be summonsed for questioning.

Two of the officers admitted that they had stopped and fined the motorist without issuing invoices because the driver was not guilty of any violations, the release said, adding that the officers would still have to be present at their office during working hours despite their suspension.

Video evidence was presented of the incident, which took place on October 21at 9:15am at the intersection. In the video, a silver ISUZU is stopped despite not running through the traffic light – as proved by the car’s dashcam footage.

On the morning of October 22, an audio message was leaked in which one of the officers, Prum Chandara, is heard offering to transfer the money back to the car owner if he would delete the video from social media, but the request was rejected.

Kim Pagna, country director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP), said on October 25 that the punishment was not severe enough.

“Stronger punishments against our traffic police officers should be used to gain the trust of the public so that our traffic police will work to strengthen the enforcement of the law on the streets to maintain public order and protect the lives of motorists,” he said.