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Missing Boy Presumed Dead After Protest Shooting

The father of a 16-year-old boy who went missing during last month’s labor protest crackdowns says he now presumes his son dead.

The boy, Khim Sophat, was caught up in demonstrations at the Canadia Industrial Zone in early January. He was not listed among the four people killed when police opened fire on protesters, but he has not been seen since.

Eye witnesses say they saw him shot and seriously wounded, then carried away by military police in a military vehicle.

“It has been more than a month,” his father, Khim Soeun, told VOA Khmer. “If he were alive, he would have contacted us.”

Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said his team is still investigating the boy’s disappearance.

Keng Tito, spokesman for the national police, said authorities have searched among those arrested and have not found him. He encouraged the family to file a case with the courts.

But Khim Soeun says he can’t afford a court case. He has come and gone to Phnom Penh 10 times looking for his son, borrowing money from neighbors to make the trips.

“I’m hopeless now,” he said. “People say he may have been thrown to the crocodiles.”