Officer accused of covering up torture

Pav Suy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The alleged beating victim is freed. Supplied

A senior police officer in Battambang province is denying reports that he helped a friend avoid a charge of torturing an employee.
The town’s deputy police chief Svay Phearum was yesterday accused in Koh Santepheap newspaper of hushing up the April 13 incident.
The newspaper said a welding workshop owner in Chamkar Samrong commune, named only as Nhip, tied an employee to a tree and beat him after discovering he had stolen a phone.
The paper published two police photos, including one which showed the victim, named only as Bol, with several bruises on his face and another of him being freed from the tree by another man.
The report claimed that Nhip told a policeman friend about the incident and the officer immediately suggested letting the victim go home as soon as possible to make sure he would not file a complaint.
Contacted by Khmer Times yesterday, Mr Phearum laughed at the report and said a subordinate had hidden the full facts from him.
“I was told about it on April 13, just before Khmer New Year,” he said. “I was having a meeting so I assigned my officers to go to the scene where they took the pictures, but they did not send them to me.
“They also said the victim was a relative of the workshop owner and had stolen a Samsung phone from him to pawn for more than 100,000 riel.
“Because they said he was a relative of the workshop owner and needed money for Khmer New Year, I asked my boss what to do and he said to forget about it because it was family business.
“After the story was published, I asked them why they had not sent me the pictures in the first place. They said they had sent the picture to a Whatsapp group, which only consisted of six of them.”
Asked what action would be taken against those officials, Mr.Phearum said he had already spoken with them.
Mr Phearum then declined to comment on the identity of those who had not informed him of the full facts in the case. “I need to check first,” he said.
He suggested the man was probably beaten up by villagers, not the workshop owner, who was female and whose husband had a leg disability and was unable to walk.
Despite Mr Phearum’s version of events it remained unclear from the original report if the Nhip mentioned is a man or woman.
Freelance journalist Chhom Pisamay, who broke the story, said he had no idea who the workshop owner was.
“I have never seen Nhip’s face. All I know is what I’ve seen in the photos shown to me by the insider at the police station.
“There are some disagreements between officers at the station. They are not happy that only those officers able to make a lot of money out of the case were assigned to investigate the matter. That is why they leaked the story,” he said, declining to reveal who his source had been.
Deputy provincial police chief Cheth Vanny said he had already launched an investigation and would not comment further.
The victim has been recovering at home in Kamrieng district since the incident.

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