A provincial police officer has denied National Police claims that he rammed his car into a taxi during a failed illegal timber bust.
One unnamed police officer in Battambang province’s Samlaut district identified the occupants of the police vehicle as Hout Sopheap and Sam Bunthoen.
Mr Bunthoen denied being present during the incident on Sunday morning.
“I do not know where the accident happened. I was not there,” he said. “When it happened, I was in Malai district.”
Asked why he thought local media reported he was in the car, Mr Bunthoeun said he was not aware of this and did not care because he has not read a newspaper in many years.
Mr Sopheap could not be reached for comment.
Mr Bunthoeun’s superior, provincial military police commander Meas Sovann, acknowledged that the pair were his officers.
“They got into a traffic accident, and we facilitated their access to medical treatment,” he said.
The Samlaut district officer said police who investigated the incident concluded it was a traffic accident.
“We only know it was a traffic accident because we didn’t find any timber inside the car,” he said.
“Officers in charge of traffic collisions who visited the scene said the white pick-up truck driven by the officer drove into the other car.
“According to the villagers, these tactics come mostly from the anti-economic crime department or the province’s military police as a way to crush the timber trade.
“There have been previous cases in which such officers used this tactic to stop criminals’ cars,” he said.
“We are not sure if this pick-up truck belongs to the military police. We found the names of the provincial police officers, but we do not know whether they are real or not.”
The officer denied that those in the white pick-up fled the scene. Instead, he said they were injured and were taken to receive treatment.
The two cars were sent to the district police office. Both were badly damaged, and the taxi driver, while injured, came to file a complaint.