An outraged public yesterday called for the brother-in-law of timber tycoon Try Pheap to be prosecuted after damning pictures of his former girlfriend, actress Pich Aviza, went viral.
The images depicted the star as apparently beaten, with bloody cuts on her swollen face and bruises covering her arms and legs.
Local media reports alleged that Kean Heng, brother to the wife of Pheap, brutally beat Pich Aviza on Sunday night at a club in Sihanoukville. She was hospitalised due to the injuries. In an emotional Facebook post yesterday, Pich A Viza wrote: “I have suffered for these two years but this violent case has ended and it is OK.”
“I never expected this thing would happen to me . . . This also happened a time long ago but I was hiding it and did not want other people to know,” she wrote.
Heng, on his Facebook page, urged people to stop sharing the shocking images.
“Today my family and Mei’s family, have agreed to compromise . . . without filing a complaint against each other,” he wrote, using a nickname for Pich Aviza. “So please all media and brothers and sisters be informed that because the case between me and honey Mei has ended, please stop sharing [the photos].”
Sihanoukville city police chief Phol Phorsda said he was aware of the high-profile allegations but no evidence had been uncovered thus far. “We have investigated and we have found nothing,” he said.
Several commentators urged the police not to be cowed by rich and powerful people, including Interior Ministry official Pheng Vannak. “Do they need to wait for Samdech Hun Sen’s order?” he wrote on Facebook, highlighting Try Pheap’s close ties to the prime minister.
“When you have money and power and want to beat somebody, there is no authority that dares to investigate.”
Heng Long, head of the Volunteer Artists Association, said he would provide a lawyer for free so Pich Aviza could press charges.
The case and the public outcry surrounding it echoes that of tycoon Sok Bun and his savage assault on TV personality Ek Socheata – better known as Ms Sasa – for which he was handed a mere 10 months in prison in February this year.
Gender and Development in Cambodia executive director Ros Sopheap said the authorities needed to send the message that violence against women was not to be tolerated.
“There is no excuse, but still there are a lot of cases where women are beaten, and the violent person always acts with impunity. The culture of impunity needs to end from now,” she said.