Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More testimony in MPs’ assault



More testimony in MPs’ assault

Sot Vanny (centre) arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for questioning.
Sot Vanny (centre) arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for questioning. Pha Lina

More testimony in MPs’ assault

Two of three members of Prime Minister’s Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit on trial for viciously beating two opposition lawmakers outside parliament last year took the stand yesterday, with more evidence suggesting the attack was coordinated emerging during the second and final day of sitting.

Soldiers Sot Vanny, 45, and Mao Hoeung, 34, yesterday echoed previous testimony by their co-accused, 33-year-old Chhay Sarith, claiming their attack on opposition CNRP parliamentarians Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sophea was in response to “insults” levelled by the lawmakers.

The parliamentarians – ripped from their cars and assaulted by at least 16 men soon after a mass pro-government rally against opposition leader Kem Sokha – have repeatedly rejected this assertion.

Yesterday, evidence from tuk-tuk driver Ek Sophearak, a witness to the beating, also suggested the suspects’ actions on October 26 were not spontaneous.

Sophearak said he was driving past at about 12pm when he saw about 10 people with red kramas tied around their waists, jump over a fence from inside the National Assembly to chase down and stop the lawmakers’ cars as they reached the south exit.

After the beating, the assailants escaped the scene in coordinated fashion, he said.

“They got on two trucks that were waiting; one of the trucks is white and its number plate was 1939. The trucks were Korean-made, like those that factory workers take,” Sophearak said.

During his testimony, Hoeung described repeatedly kicking and hitting both victims, and confirmed he belonged to the bodyguard’s 2B unit based in Kandal province’s Takhmao town for three years and was trained in Vietnam.

He said his job was to gather intelligence for his superiors, whom he refused to discuss. He confirmed both Vanny and Sarith were also members of the unit, which is under the premier’s command.

Sot Vanny – a 20-year veteran of the premier’s bodyguards – was even cagier when probed about his superiors, becoming visibly irritated on questions of training and discipline. On the morning of the attack, he recalled drinking coffee with 10 friends – some police officers – before hearing about the protests on the group’s walkie talkies.

“Then, we dispersed to our targets and I had to pick up Mao Hoeung at a cafe near the Independence Monument so that he could go and get the information about the demonstration,” said Vanny, who confessed to beating the lawmakers but denied damaging their cars.

The Post last month revealed evidence showing soldiers were ferried from a Bodyguard Unit base in Takhmao run by deputy Bodyguard Unit commander Deang Sarun to the anti-Sokha protest.

During the hearing, lawyer for the victims Sam Sokong argued the attack was “clearly planned and managed”.

“The accused Sot Vanny said he drank coffee with 10 people in the morning, and one of the witnesses said he saw 10 people jump out of the parliament building. So, it is consistent,” he said.

The lawyers for the suspects, who are charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances and property damage, yesterday requested a reduced sentence and for the latter charge to be dropped.

Choung Choungy, also representing the victims, demanded the suspects each pay both victims $25,000 in damages.

A verdict is due on May 27.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma