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

  • PM responds to Rainsy ticket claims

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday expressed frustration over claims by Sam Rainsy that he had altered Rainsy’s ticket with Thai Airways to prevent him boarding his November 7 flight to Thailand, from where he had claimed he would enter Cambodia. Hun Sen made the

  • Phnom Penh International Airport wins award as passenger traffic soars

    The Phnom Penh International Airport has been awarded Best Asia Pacific Regional Airport 2019 for its sustained high growth in passenger traffic in recent years. The award was presented by the Capa Centre for Aviation (Capa) – a world-leading and trusted organisation that provides market intelligence to

  • PM urges ‘democracies’ to learn from horrors Cambodia faced

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday chided countries that he said declared themselves a democracy while supporting a military coup that eventually gave birth to the Khmer Rouge regime. Speaking during the 2nd Asia-Pacific Summit at the Peace Palace, Hun Sen said without naming those

  • Princess Buppha Devi passes away aged 77

    Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, who was famous for her skills and key roles behind the Kingdom’s Royal Ballet, passed away on Monday from unspecified illness at a hospital in the Thai capital Bangkok, according to the official Facebook page of King Norodom Sihamoni. “May

  • PM: Request for release of plotters not due to pressure

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday said his request to have the supporters of former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his “coup plot” released on bail was not made under international pressure. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of 34 roads in Preah Sihanouk

  • Ministry deplores RFA report on EBA

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Friday deplored as fake news a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report that it had received a copy of the European Commission’s assessment on the human rights situation in Cambodia as part of the Everything But