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Representatives of the Cambodia Confederation Development Association yesterday make their case to members of the press that they were victims, not instigators, of a recent brawl in Phnom Penh.
Representatives of the Cambodia Confederation Development Association yesterday make their case to members of the press that they were victims, not instigators, of a recent brawl in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Alleged attackers at Capitol protest to sue

The president of a tuk-tuk and motodop drivers’ association, whose members were recorded on video brutally beating protesting bus drivers over the weekend, said he would file complaints against prominent union and civil society leaders for sparking the violence his own group was accused of instigating.

E Sophors, president of the Cambodia for Confederation Development Association, claimed yesterday that he had his own video evidence showing that innocent CCDA tuk-tuk drivers were in fact beaten up by protesters, rather than the drivers beating protesters with sticks, metal rods and hammers, as publicly available videos show.

“We did not hit any [bus] drivers, and we have prepared a video clip showing the violent brawl as evidence,” he said, while declining to make the clip available to reporters.

On Saturday morning, about 50 former Capitol Bus Company drivers and their union supporters demonstrated against Capitol for allegedly firing 45 bus drivers for trying to start a union.

The protesters were soon set upon by CCDA members, sparking a bloody beatdown that ended in the arrest of two protesters but none of those affiliated with the CCDA.

Sophors said that five people would be named in his complaints: Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodia Labour Confederation; Kong Athit, general secretary of CLC; Nin Kosal, deputy president of the Cambodia Transportation Workers Federation; Sok Chhun Oeung, deputy president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association; and Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for rights group Licadho.

Three of them – Thorn, Athit, and Chhun Oeung – were among the six men, including the two arrested protesters, charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday on incitement and violence charges.

While the two arrestees are now in Prey Sar prison, the other four men charged, all prominent union leaders, remain free.

Krek Sakrain, deputy police chief of Prampi Makara district, said the court had not yet issued any arrest warrants.

Sophors denied allegations that his group was funded by Capitol, adding that the CCDA would release statements to the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labour, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today to take unspecified action against the 34 civil society associations who condemned the CCDA for attacking the protesters.

Am Sam Ath of Licadho said he was unconcerned about Sophors’s plans, and urged authorities to investigate Saturday’s events transparently.

“Sue me. I have nothing to worry about because I did not do anything illegal.”

The CLC’s Ath Thorn said former Capitol drivers had already prepared their own complaints against Capitol and the CCDA for the violence.

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