Government officials yesterday continued their stalwart defence of immigration official Chhean Pisith, despite the release of CCTV footage that shows Pisith walking without so much as a limp just days after claiming a CNRP official had struck him down with his SUV.
Three videos of surveillance footage leaked to a Facebook page on Friday show Pisith strolling through a Thai guesthouse on December 27 with a female companion. The video, which Pisith is said to have decried as a violation of his privacy, created a new wave of reactions over the weekend from Cambodian netizens, only solidifying widespread doubts over the merits of the case.
Pisith was sent to a Thai hospital after Mang Puthy, a local unionist and CNRP official, allegedly hit Pisith with his car five days earlier as he attempted to intervene in a dispute between the immigration officer and a local motodop.
Puthy was sent to pre-trial detention on a charge of aggravated intentional violence, but in a video of the incident released on social media, the car appears to be completely immobile when Pisith collapses in front of it. He was later photographed in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace.
Sim Samarth, chief of immigration police at Poipet, said after being hit on December 22, Pisith was discharged on December 24 and was at the guesthouse awaiting documentation from the hospital.
“Why are people on Facebook criticising him because he got better and the hospital allowed him to go back home?” he asked.
Samarth added that officials had medical records to prove the extent of Pisith’s injuries but would not publish them on Facebook and would instead submit them to the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court as evidence.
The video from the Thai guesthouse was posted on Facebook under an account with the name Ton Sen. Contacted yesterday, the man using the account refused to reveal his name but admitted to posting the videos online.
The man, who sent messages to Post reporters via Facebook, said he had been in touch with the person who shot the videos of the security footage and volunteered to post them after the other person got cold feet.
“Someone gave it to me via Facebook chat. So I have the right to post it on Facebook in public,” he said. “I want the court to know that [Pisith] is a liar.”
He later posted a video of himself alleging that Pisith was performing the charade to get a promotion. “Five-year-old children do acts like this. If he was injured badly, how did he get better so fast?” he asked.
Yesterday, Pheng Vannak, an official at the Interior Ministry, said Pisith had called the videos a breach of his privacy and that he was requesting that Thai police investigate the leak.
Following Puthy’s arrest, both Banteay Menachey prosecutor Sok Keo Bandith and the Interior Ministry released statements saying there were no irregularities in the charges, backing the police’s investigation.
However, opposition spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday said the ministry needed to re-evaluate the case in light of the new videos.
“This does not seem politically motivated. But information on Facebook shows irregularities and they need to give answers to the public,” he said.