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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sok Bun strikes a bargain with ‘Ms Sasa'

Former TV presenter Ek Socheata appears at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in July of last year.
Former TV presenter Ek Socheata appears at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in July of last year. Vireak Mai

Sok Bun strikes a bargain with ‘Ms Sasa'

The trial of real estate tycoon Sok Bun opened with a bombshell yesterday as it was revealed that former TV presenter Ek Socheata had dropped her complaint against the man who was seen viciously beating her on security camera footage that went viral in July.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Sor Lina read a previously undisclosed letter from Socheata, better known to her fans as Ms Sasa, to the courtroom yesterday expressing the plaintiff’s desire to withdraw her complaint, without explanation. When contacted by the Post yesterday, Socheata refused to comment.

The family of the former CTN host has previously stated that they would accept no financial deal to drop the charges, including a highly publicised offer of $100,000 early on from Bun’s camp.

Bun was arrested 16 days after the July 2 incident, in which he was seen repeatedly punching and kicking Socheata in the head, and has been held at Prey Sar prison since.

One of Socheata’s lawyers, Puth Theavy, said he wished for the decision to be left “to the judge’s discretion”, while prosecutor Hing Bunthan requested that the court continue with the case regardless of any deals struck between the parties.

“We have seen that in this case, the accused Sok Bun really committed the crime of intentional violence with aggravated assault . . . I, the prosecutor, would like to continue with the charge and would like the court to prosecute the accused according to law,” he said.

Theavy said that Socheata told him in December that she wanted to withdraw her complaint because she had come to “excuse” Bun’s assault out of a newfound sense of sympathy for her attacker.

Similarly, Seng Sovina, one of Bun’s lawyers, said that both Socheata and Bun wished to bring the trial to an end. Sovina speculated that there might have been an extrajudicial deal reached, but he could not confirm that.

“I think there is a deal outside, but they’ve kept it private,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun, a legal expert, said that according to Cambodian law, the case must proceed regardless of Socheata’s request.

Oeun speculated that Socheata might have opted for an extrajudicial deal to acquire more compensation money from the defendant. According to Article 218, Bun’s charge, the compensation amount is capped at 10 million riel ($25,000), along with a possible jail sentence of 2-5 years.

An undated statement read in court yesterday from Socheatas father, Uth Thy, a tycoon in his own right who had taken a leading role in the case, indicated that he had asked for $2 million in compensation in his initial complaint.

“I would like the court to prosecute [Sok Bun] according to law. I demand $2 million compensation for the treatment of my daughter,” it read.

However when contacted yesterday evening, Thy denied making that statement, instead saying that he had turned the case over to Socheata and that she and her lawyers had made the demand in his name.

While Thy said in July that he would reject compensation if it meant the tycoon would escape sentencing, yesterday he inferred that he had lost faith that Bun would face justice in the courts.

“Before, I decided to do whatever it took to bring Mr Bun to face the law. But if he faces the law, even if we don’t withdraw [from the trial], he would be released. This is what I know,” he said.

Neither Bun, Socheata nor the prosecution’s two witnesses were in court yesterday.

Theavy said that he did not know where Socheata was yesterday, but added that she had a right to privacy.

Bun’s lawyer, Sovina, told the Post that his client “was sick today” and had provided a doctor’s note to the court, but added that he did not know where Bun was receiving treatment.

Judge Lina said that she would announce a verdict on February 15.

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Comments

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Asok's picture

Ms Sasa is a savvy,talented social media user. She leverage social media to get maximum pay out from Mr. Sok Bun from a drunken, 1 A.M. brawl between two of them even though she the initiator by cursing him and throwing iPhone at him, when he about to walk away. She understand the power of social media. She used it to completely destroy a powerful opponent, and have him beg for mercy. She used to gain support and pity from almost everyone inside and out of the country from prime minister to civil right advocate, and ordinary citizen. How does she did it? She should a hold a seminar on how to use social media to manipulate populate opinion.

TruthTeller's picture

You should be ashamed of your stance. Of course Ms. Sasa is savvy and talented; when did that become wrong? Oh, I have forgotten. She deserved to be savagely beaten for cursing and throwing an i Phone at an out-of-control oaf.

I can't believe that anyone would think that she brought this savage attack on. Fortunately, when he moved her head under his boot to then stomp--and kill her--she was able to move away.

Shame on you. I wish I had seen this disgraceful message from you (let me guess: friend of the perpetrator?) in January 2016, so I could have called you out then.

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