Chhean Pisith, the immigration officer accused of taking a dive in front of a unionist’s car in Poipet, should be moved out of the border town to quell public outrage and help put the incident to rest, Banteay Meanchey’s provincial governor said this week.
Speaking to provincial officials at a public order meeting on Monday, Provincial Governor Suon Bovor said transferring Pisith would help “calm” the furore caused by the Poipet deputy immigration chief’s widely doubted claims that he was struck by a car driven by local Cambodia National Rescue Party official and unionist Mang Puthy.
“This is the last choice, but the best choice to finish the case altogether,” Bovor said when contacted yesterday.
Bovor said provincial authorities, however, could not themselves transfer Pisith, as it was up to his superiors at the Interior Ministry.
Spokesman for the ministry’s general department of immigration Keo Vanthan yesterday said he was unaware of any plans to move the officer.
Pisith’s claim that he was injured by Puthy’s car caused an uproar in December when video footage emerged showing the official dropping abruptly in front of the seemingly stationary vehicle, then proceeding to claim he was seriously injured.
The incident, which prompted outrage and merciless ridicule on social media, further incensed the public when additional video clips emerged showing Pisith strolling seemingly uninjured through a Thai guesthouse just days later.
Bovor said transferring Pisith would be a “win-win” despite the fact that Puthy, director of the Cambodia Informal Economy Reinforced Association (CIERA), remains in pre-trial detention, charged with intentional aggravated violence.
He said though authorities could not intervene in the courts, he would try to bring Puthy and Pisith’s families together to find a solution.
“We want them all to coordinate this case together.”
Yesterday, meanwhile, three witnesses appeared at the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court to testify on behalf of Puthy who also goes by Din Puthy according to his lawyer, Kim Socheat. Socheat said no trial date had been set as the court continues to investigate the case.
Oun Chinvon, one of the three, said he was questioned for two hours.
“They questioned me over what happened at the scene. I told them that Din Puthy did not hit the policeman, the car did not move quick enough to cause injuries like this,” Chinvon said.
Nghent Neang, another of the witnesses, said he gave a similar account. “We hope that the court will find justice for Din Puthy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Puthy’s wife, Hum Srean, said her husband was suffering in prison, where she visited him yesterday.
“I pity him so much, he lacks energy and is sick. I hope he will get out from jail.”
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann appealed to the court to handle the case fairly.
“There is a lot of evidence, a lot of reaction from the people on the ground,” he said. “They must do the investigation independently, not with political motivations, to find justice.”