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Opposition activist Ouk Pich Samnang is escorted into the Phnom Penh Appeal Court yesterday, where he was tried for the use of violence at a Freedom Park protest in 2014.
Opposition activist Ouk Pich Samnang is escorted into the Phnom Penh Appeal Court yesterday, where he was tried for the use of violence at a Freedom Park protest in 2014. Kim Sarom

CNRP activist, guards spar over brawl account

An opposition activist sentenced to two years’ jail over a violent brawl between protesters and Daun Penh security guards near the prime minister’s house in 2014 argued with court officials and prosecution witnesses during his appeal yesterday.

Ouk Pich Samnang was found guilty in September 2015 of aggravated violence and obstruction after driving his tuk-tuk into a security barricade and allegedly attacking guards.

He has been behind bars since 2014 and yesterday told reporters he had been beaten by prison guards.

During the hearing, Samnang shouted at the guards who claimed they were attacked during the protest, which was led by villagers from Preah Vihear who had arrived in Phnom Penh to lobby the premier over a land dispute in their home province.

He also sparred with judge Samrith Sophal, who ordered him to “listen to the question” before answering. The activist told the judge to let him “detail the story from the beginning” before arguing that he did not instigate the violence that broke out.

“I only shouted in the protest,” he said.

Daun Penh security guard chief Kim Vutha testified that 70 security guards, deployed to prevent protesters from reaching the premier’s house, were attacked upon meeting the group near Wat Botum.

He recalled that Samnang drove his tuk-tuk into the barricade before attacking the guards. Five guards testified they had spent more than $300 each on medical bills after being beaten.

A verdict is due on July 20.

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