Four officers suspended over alleged traffic stop scuffle

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Las Puth Thea (left) poses for a photo after a purported altercation with four police officers in Svay Rieng province. FACEBOOK

Four police officers have been suspended for allegedly using violence while enforcing traffic law and causing injuries to a taxi driver in Svay Rieng province’s Svay Chrum district.

Provincial police chief Koeng Khorn declined to reveal the officers’ identities.

According to a provincial police report, the incident occurred on November 22 after traffic police set up a speed check on a section of National Road 1.

The speed check caught Las Puth Thea, who drove over the speed limit at 96km/h and crashed into a barricade when police attempted to stop him. Puth Thea then drove off on village streets trying to escape, prompting the police to give chase and eventually leading to an altercation.

Svay Chrum district deputy police chief Sok Tren told The Post on November 24 that Puth Thea suffered injuries to his mouth during the incident.

“When the car hit the barricade, the police jumped out of the way. Normally, people get angry in that situation when their minds are unsettled. They lost their patience and thought they could chase him by motorcycles because the road condition was difficult for a car to drive fast.

“Then sometime later, they came back with the taxi driver who had a bloody mouth, but it was not so serious,” he said, adding the legal limit for all vehicles in urban areas is a maximum speed of 40km/h.

Soeng Sen Karuna, the senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said traffic police should not use violence unless perpetrators resist arrest and fight back.

“I think the authorities cannot use violent measures against the people, because the arrest of perpetrators must be done peacefully by preparing cases according to the law. If the authorities were on duty and committing acts of violence against people, they must apologise according to the law,” he said.

“If it’s a violation of Cambodian Criminal Code, that police officers must be arrested according to procedure and administrative action must be taken. Not only that, [an officer] could receive criminal penalties if causing serious injuries to people,” he added.

After the incident, the driver agreed with the punishment according to the law. The police officers who used violence spoke to the driver and apologised.