Prey Veng Court Investigating Alleged Police Violence

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Thai Sameat says he was beaten by Prey Veng police officers on July 20, 2020, with a photo of his black eye from the incident supplied by Sameat.
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The Prey Veng Provincial Court is investigating a case of alleged police brutality after two men filed a complaint of physical violence and extortion against an anti-drug officer last month, a court official said on Wednesday.

Based on the complaint, Prey Veng Provincial Police officials forwarded a case to the provincial court regarding Touch Theara, deputy chief of the provincial anti-drug bureau, according to a letter from the provincial police dated Sunday.

Prey Veng court spokesperson Chan Vannak said on Wednesday that the court had begun investigating, but he could not share details.

“This case is under the stage of investigation and the framework of the investigation needs to be kept confidential,” Vannak said.

One of the alleged victims of the police violence, Thai Sameat, 26, said on Wednesday that he had testified when he submitted his complaint at the provincial court on July 31, about one week after he first told Cheung Toek commune police about the beating and torture that Theara allegedly committed against Sameat and a friend on July 20, but he had not been questioned since then. 

Sameat said he had sued for damages as well as the $500 that Theara allegedly extorted from him, and he was happy the case was progressing in court. However, the man said he was worried that the outcome of the case may not be in his favor as his alleged abuser may have powerful connections. 

“If [the court] follows the law, I have much hope of getting justice for [both of] us,” Sameat said. “I have requested [the court] to remove him from his position and sentenced him according to the law.”

Provincial police chief Prum Santhor could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

On July 27, National Police chief Neth Savoeun said in a letter that seven Prey Veng anti-drug police officers, including Theara, would be suspended, but required to report to provincial police headquarters during work hours. 

Thorng Vandy, a deputy provincial anti-drug police chief who was also suspended on July 27, was accused of illegal arms trafficking in 2019, according to the letter. A Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge did not find evidence against him and dropped the charge on May 21, the letter says.

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