Opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang yesterday asked Interior Minister Sar Kheng to launch an investigation into the jailing of a Cambodia National Rescue Party official in Poipet charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances after allegedly hitting an immigration official with his car.
CNRP deputy provincial chief Mang Puthy was sent to pre-trial detention on Saturday despite the existence of a widely circulated video in which immigration official Chhean Pisith can be seen collapsing to the ground, seemingly without ever being touched by the vehicle.
Pisith was subsequently taken to a local clinic, then transferred to a Thai hospital. Puthy, meanwhile, was sent to provincial prison under Article 218 of the Criminal Code. Information disseminated by rights group Adhoc on Sunday had initially identified the charge against Puthy, who also fronts the local union Cambodia Informal Economy Reinforced Association, as attempted murder.
In calling for the probe during a debate on the Traffic Law in the National Assembly yesterday, Chhay Eang suggested it was possible Pisith suffered from some other illness that caused him to collapse.
“I can analyse that if there is no collision with the car but he still got injured, maybe it was because of some other disease,” Chhay Eang said yesterday.
He added that errant drivers normally had a tendency to flee the scene but that Puthy did not and questioned Pisith’s continued grasp on his walkie-talkie and keys, which he claims should have fallen from his hand if he had actually been struck.
Speaking to the assembly later, Prime Minister Hun Sen took Chhay Eang to task for his analysis, sarcastically commending him on his “medical examination” of the case.
“If his Excellency [Chhay Eang] goes to work as medical examiner, he will be better at it than his work as a lawmaker,” Hun Sen said.
Chhay Eang did, in fact, study health sciences in the 1980s.
Talking to reporters after the parliamentary session, Sar Kheng said he was unaware of the details of the case but had directed relevant officials to start an investigation.
“This problem is new, so we cannot make any conclusions immediately. I have ordered immigration police and local authorities in Banteay Meanchey to examine this case,” he said.
But Jim Leang, a lawyer with the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said he will represent Puthy and, based on the video evidence, hoped the court would free his client.
Since footage of the incident was released on social media it has gone viral among a largely disbelieving public, with numerous memes placing pictures of a prone Pisith in comical situations.