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Hearing on Wat Phnom attacks resumes

People hold posters during a protest in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday afternoon as Boeung Kak Lake community activists are questioned.
People hold posters during a protest in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday afternoon as Boeung Kak Lake community activists are questioned. Hong Menea

Hearing on Wat Phnom attacks resumes

Questioning resumed yesterday over a now three-year-old attack on a peaceful gathering of activists at the capital’s Wat Phnom, as dozens of local land dispute activists protested outside the municipal court demanding justice.

The September 2013 attack saw about 20 members of the Boeung Kak and Borei Keila communities – as well as journalists and observers – attacked during a candlelight vigil by a group of men armed with sticks, slingshots and electric batons.

Eleven activists, including two elderly women, were injured in the attack.

After her questioning yesterday, 57-year-old Phann Chhunreth told the Post that the court had maintained it possesses no evidence related to the attack, despite widely circulated video and photographs. Four of her fellow activists were questioned last week.

“When we filed the complaint, we submitted evidence as well,” she said. “But now they say we did not have the evidence. We had pictures of the fighting and video clips.”

The complaint names four Daun Penh district officials as the ringleaders of the attack: Deputy District Governor Sok Penhvuth; director of order Kim Vutha; council official Pich Socheata; and deputy police chief Soa Nol.

“I saw only one of them during the violence – Socheata. But they were the four leaders [of the attack],” Chhunreth said.

Reth went on to say that presiding judge Lim Makaron addressed confusion over the dates on the summonses – which listed the date of the attack as May 6, 2016, rather than September 22, 2013 – admitting an error and saying that it would be corrected.

Nget Khun, 76, also known as “Mummy”, said she will continue to present the evidence the activists had originally submitted to the Ministry of Interior and National Police during her own questioning today, adding that complications such as the summons date mistake were rare when activists were the target of complaints.

“They did not call perpetrators, but they called us. Now, they put the wrong date [on the summons],” Khun said. “So, I don’t know what tricks they are playing.”

Hit near the eye by a marble in 2013, Si Heap said she and other activists had initially ignored the summons because they were afraid of validating the wrong date on the document, which could adversely affect the verdict.

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