Four journalists said they were assaulted and had their cameras smashed while they were covering the flow of goods and people across the Thai border in Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai district on Saturday evening, though their alleged attacker maintained it was they who violently assaulted him.
The reporters alleged that the attack’s instigator was Thin Marnan, whom they identified as a police officer, which Marnan yesterday denied – an assertion corroborated by a border police official.
Though the journalists said yesterday Marnan rushed them with a machete, his attempts to cut them were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, photos emerged of Marnan being treated for injuries he said were caused by the journalists.
Pho Bunthorn, a journalist working for Hang Meas TV in Banteay Meanchey, said he was filming when Marnan, whom he said was a border police official from Unit 815, approached them looking drunk and belligerent. Marnan allegedly grabbed Bunthorn’s camera, flung it to the ground, then went for his machete.
“The above suspect walked out of a hut in a drunken state with a machete and asked me ‘Who let all of you capture video here?’” Bunthorn said. “Then the suspect grabbed the camera, broke it against the ground and rushed at Keo Vuthy, a TV5 reporter. As he saw Vuthy running away, the suspect began to chase me; I managed to run into a cassava field located near a stream near the border.”
Bunthorn said he and Vuthy plan to personally file complaints today, without the involvement of their media companies. Other reporters on scene included employees of CTN and ASEAN TV.
Speaking by phone yesterday, Marnan denied having any connection to the border police, saying he’s only a farmer. He insisted that the reporters were the guilty parties during the confrontation.
“They went into my field and held my hands back, hard. Then I tried to get loose and it led to a brawl with them,” he said. “They beat me and I got a hand injury before my three workers came to help me.”
Marnan said that he filed a complaint to the local authorities, accusing Bunthorn and Vuthy of “causing injury”.
San Sai, a border police officer with Unit 815 at the Chambork outpost, confirmed yesterday that Marnan had no affiliation with the border police, and said that he had reported the case to the provincial police station in Banteay Meanchey.
“The two groups all claim that they are the victims. Therefore, this case requires a thorough investigation first,” he said.