The government has failed in recent years to take steps to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence committed during the Khmer Rouge, according to the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Officials at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday questioned six men accused of using violence against authorities when protesters clashed with security forces near Phnom Penh’s Monivong Bridge in fighting that saw a 29-year-old man shot dead.
The men were arrested Sunday night, at the end of a day of demonstrations at Freedom Park and marches in the city led by the opposition CNRP.
Sanh Samoeun, 28; Ngugen Thi Dek, 20; Ek Chan Nu, 17; Tang Chongseang, 18; Song Nisai, 20; and Var Noeun, 20, were detained by Interior Ministry police late Sunday night and sent to court for questioning on Monday, said Interior Ministry penal police chief Lour Sokha.
“Police sent them to the court for questioning on Monday, but I don’t know whether they were charged or not,” Mr. Sokha said.
Court clerk Kem Cheng said the six men had been questioned by deputy prosecutor Sieng Sok and sent to investigating Judge Suos Sam Ath for further questioning.
“Deputy prosecutor Sieng Sok has questioned them and sent them to the investigating judge,” he said.
Chan Soveth, senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, who arrived at the scene of the clashes shortly before 7 p.m. on Sunday, said the arrests happened between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.—shortly after Mao Chan, a commuter, was shot in the head and killed during an escalation in tensions between protesters and anti-riot forces.
“Around 8:30 [p.m.], a group of military police arrived. They opened the road…and they [made the] arrests,” Mr. Soveth said, putting the number of police at 1,000.
In a statement Monday, a group of 10 civil society organizations, including Adhoc and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, called for the immediate release of the six men.
“At around 8:30 p.m., the victims moved razor-wire barricades in order to open up the road, and violence resulted when police fired tear gas, threw smoke grenades and fired live bullets into a crowd caught in the traffic jam, causing one death, eight injuries and six arrests,” the statement says.
“Please release the people who were arrested during the accident,” it says.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that his party had also requested that the men be freed.
“We appeal to the government authorities to release the six men who were arrested on Sunday,” he said, adding that the CNRP would launch its own investigation into whether the individuals had been CNRP supporters or mere bystanders.
(Additional reporting by Mech Dara)
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