A former adviser to Senate President Chea Sim who was sentenced to a year in prison in 2011 over a shooting was arrested yesterday after allegedly wading into a group of 10 journalists with fists flailing as they attempted to film the scene of a car wreck he had just walked away from.
Phnom Penh’s deputy police chief of minor crime, Bun Sathya, told the Post that David Chanaiwa, a Khmer-American, described as about 40, was one of two men arrested over the alleged beating on the capital’s Monivong Boulevard shortly after midnight yesterday.
The arrest followed television and newspaper journalists showing officers video footage and photos of seven men punching and kicking them after what they said was a high-speed crash involving Chanaiwa, Sathya added.
“The suspects were arrested and charged with intentionally causing injuries and have been sent to court to be prosecuted,” he said.
One of the journalists was seriously injured in the attack and taken to hospital, where he remained as of late yesterday.
Another reporter, Su Bunthy, 48, from TV11, said he was beaten and had his camera seized in the attack.
“I regard it simply as violence inflicted upon us by rich and powerful people,” he said. “This action has negative urge the authorities to prosecute the suspects.”
Chanaiwa, the eponymous owner of a consultancy firm in the capital and chairman of Brothers Investment Group when it was awarded a contract to dredge the Mekong River in 2008, was reportedly sentenced in absentia to one year in jail in 2011.
The prison term – which he never served – was a consequence of him firing his gun at the River House Restaurant in 2007.
Yim Leang, chief of Senate President Chea Sim’s bodyguard unit, told the Post yesterday that Chanaiwa was also once an adviser to Sim, but was fired more than five years ago.
“He was removed from that position as adviser because he conducted himself improperly while in the position,” Leang said, before ending the conversation with disparaging words about Chanaiwa.
According to a letter released by the Cambodian Bar Association yesterday, Chanaiwa was expelled from the association in 2003, while he has also made headlines for driving his Hummer through a garden named after Prime Minister Hun Sen near NagaWorld casino.
The Cambodian Journalists Club yesterday condemned the violence on the journalists, whose employers include TV9, Bayon TV, ANN, DAP, Koh Santepheap and Hangmeas TV.
“The suspects are guilty and we appeal to the municipal police to search and arrest the others involved,” the journalists’ association said.
Representatives of David Chanaiwa and Associates could not be reached for comment. Police are continuing to search for five other men alleged to be involved in the attack.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHANE WORRELL