The Interior Ministry is reportedly looking into the case of a man who was allegedly tortured to death by a group of police officers in Battambang province during a raid on illegal gambling.
Iv Leang, general director of the ministry’s inspection department, yesterday said ministry officials held a meeting on Tuesday about the case, noting the man’s family lodged a formal complaint on November 5, 2019.
Mr Leang said the complaint stated Lieutenant Colonel Sareth Viseth, chief of Phnom Proek district police and eight other police officers conducted an unwarranted raid and the alleged police officers robbed the man and tortured him during the raid.
Mr Leang declined to elaborate, noting the case is still being investigated.
Hong Leakhena, the man’s wife, said her husband Chey Phearun was a victim of police brutality.
She said the police officers on October 9 searched her home and found Mr Phearun playing dice with three other people.
Ms Leakhena said during the raid, police took money from the dice game’s pot, her husband’s platinum necklace and three motorbikes.
“They arrested my husband and let the three others go,” she said. “One police officer gave me his number and promised to solve the issue later.”
“After some time, my mother called that police officer and he said my husband jumped out of a police transport vehicle, was hit by a car and sent to a hospital,” Ms Leakhena said.
She said she immediately went to the hospital and saw her husband in critical condition with severe wounds and broken bones.
Ms Leakhena said when she asked a doctor about the injuries, he said they were consistent with beatings rather than a traffic accident.
She said her husband later died and while at his funeral, a group of police officers showed up and tried to force her to sign a written statement saying her husband was a member of a rebel group.
Ms Leakhena said she did not sign the statement.
“They have been calling and warning us not to file a complaint against them, but we cannot accept this,” she said. “We hope Interior Minister Sar Kheng and ministry officials will provide justice.”
Lt Col Viseth, the police officer who allegedly led the raid, declined to comment yesterday.
According to a Battambang Provincial Police report, Lt Col Viseth said he seized Mr Phearun’s belongings as evidence, adding the deceased was heavily under the influence of alcohol.
“It was just 1,000 metres away from his house where he jumped from our police car and hit his head on the right side of the vehicle,” Lt Col Viseth said in the report. “Our police officers brought him to hospital for treatment but unfortunately he passed away.”
“During the raid, police officers did not beat nor torture the victim,” he said.