Bun Sokha (in towel), a deputy chief of staff in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, beats a man in a Koh Kong hotel last month with the help of bodyguards. Photograph taken from a security video screengrab.
Koh Kong Provincial Court “quietly and hurriedly” released former Hun Sen assistant Bun Sokha and his three accomplices yesterday morning, but hadn’t announced whether the four were found guilty of assaulting four men in a Koh Kong hotel in April, NGO representatives said.
Sokha, 38, the former deputy chief of staff of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, and three members of his entourage confessed in court on July 5 to brutally beating the four victims – an event that was caught on a hotel security camera and later posted on YouTube – however, even police said they were clueless as to the verdict.
“I was informed that they were brought to the court to hear the verdict and after that they are free. They are not in prison,” said provincial minor crimes police chief Lay Menglaing. “I have not received a copy of the verdict so I could not tell more,” added Menglaing, whose office preliminarily charged and gathered evidence against the defendants.
In Kim, the defendants’ lawyer, said he “did not receive information about the verdict or release of my clients”.
Human rights groups found themselves in the dark as well.
“The court announced it quietly and hurriedly, and we regret they were released,” said In Kongchit, provincial coordinator for the rights group Licadho. “It shows the court is a tool for rich and powerful people to use against ordinary people.”
Adhoc provincial coordinator Neang Boratino said the case displayed evidence of nepotism.
“The prosecution officials did not appeal, that is why they are released, and the court tried to hide information from us, so there must be irregularities in their decision,” he said.
Victim Phat Sokha was also unaware of the outcome, and he attended the trial.
“I regret that I did not hear the verdict,” he said.