The Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) filed a lawsuit for damages yesterday against three government officials on behalf of a Voice of Democracy journalist who was badly beaten by security guards at the site of a planned demonstration in the capital earlier this month.
Voice of Democracy reporter Lay Samean, 27, was attacked by Daun Penh district security guards on May 2 while covering a scheduled opposition rally near Freedom Park that never materialised due to heavy police presence.
Samean was beaten on the head, and his injuries necessitated a trip to Bangkok for an operation that CCIM paid for.
In the lawsuit, CCIM, which oversees Voice of Democracy, is demanding $30,000 in medical compensation fees from Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong, Daun Penh District Governor Sok Sambath and his deputy, Sok Penh Vuth.
“CCIM spent $30,000 on [Samean’s] operation in Thailand,” CCIM director Pa Ngoun Teang said at a press conference yesterday announcing the lawsuit, which was filed with Phnom Penh Municipal Court. “We demand compensation from these three governors because they are the leaders of the security guards.”
Socheatvong, Sambath and Penh Vuth referred questions yesterday to City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche.
“They are free to file complaints at the court if they have the proper evidence. If not, they [the plaintiffs] can file a complaint in return suing for defamation,” Dimanche said.
Kaing Tong Ngy, a spokesman with CCIM, said the lawsuit was not targeting Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, who told the Post last week that unidentified witnesses had heard Samean insulting district security guards, using a term seen by some as derogatory towards Vietnamese people.
Since the incident, Samean has repeatedly denied that he said anything of the sort, and a Post journalist at the scene attributed the comment to someone else.
Samean said yesterday his health is improving but that he still suffers from headaches. He also complained of problems in one eye and pain in his cheek.
“I’ll still work as an investigative reporter to report on what’s happening in society,” he said.