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Activist gets day in court

Political activist and Cambodia National Rescue Party supporter Ouk Pich Samnang is escorted out of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court by authorities after a hearing in March.
Political activist and Cambodia National Rescue Party supporter Ouk Pich Samnang is escorted out of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court by authorities after a hearing in March. Hong Menea

Activist gets day in court

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried an opposition activist for allegedly driving his tuk-tuk into a barricade and beating security guards during a protest that turned violent outside the prime minister’s house in the capital.

Ouk Pich Samnang – one of 11 opposition activists last month convicted of insurrection over a violent protest at Freedom Park last July – yesterday faced four more charges, later reduced to two, related to the separate rally on October 20.

At that protest, about 100 residents of Preah Vihear came to ask for Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany’s help with land disputes.

Daun Penh district security guard chief Kim Vutha, representing the alleged victims, accused Samnang, 52, of ramming the barrier and instigating the violence.

“He broke the security barricade by crashing his tuk-tuk into it,” Vutha said.

“[Then] he and his people started attacking our security guards, causing more than 10 people to be wounded, including six seriously.”

During the trial, two video clips were played. One showed Samnang crashing his tuk-tuk into the barrier.

The second showed the ensuing violence, but didn’t feature Samnang.

Samnang confessed to ramming the barrier but denied beating guards, saying he was the victim of violence. “I am an innocent person,” he said.

Samnang was charged with violence with aggravating circumstances, obstructing the work of authorities, damaging public property and participating in criminal association.

The latter two charges were dropped by the prosecution.

A verdict is due September 10.

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