Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No arrests yet in National Assembly attacks

No arrests yet in National Assembly attacks

CNRP lawmaker Kong Sakphea is attended to by medical staff in a Bangkok hospital at the end of last month after being attacked at the National Assembly.
CNRP lawmaker Kong Sakphea is attended to by medical staff in a Bangkok hospital at the end of last month after being attacked at the National Assembly. Photo supplied

No arrests yet in National Assembly attacks

Pressure is growing on investigators probing the savage beating of two opposition lawmakers outside parliament last week, as an official yesterday claimed police needed more time to make arrests.

Cambodia National Rescue Party parliamentarians Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sakphea are recovering in a Bangkok hospital after being set upon by a mob as they attempted to leave the National Assembly last Monday.

The attackers – some of whose faces have been revealed in smartphone footage uploaded to social media – emerged as a pro-ruling Cambodian People’s Party rally calling for the ouster of CNRP deputy chief Kem Sokha as the parliament’s first vice president began to disperse.

Speaking yesterday, National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said the special commission set up to find the perpetrators, which has been promised a $10,000 reward for a speedy outcome, had “multiple leads” but needed “more evidence”.

Chantharith said investigators had inspected the scene, and collected footage from social media and “other documents”.

He said Sakphea’s driver, Phal Pheakdey, who has already been questioned, had been re-summonsed to give evidence, though Pheakdey, according to opposition spokesman Yem Ponhearith, had no more to say. “If there are leads, we encourage [the commission] to find out quickly,” Ponhearith added.

Yesterday, Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesman for the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the body was ready to contribute to the investigation if invited by authorities. The CNRP had requested the UN be involved in the probe.

Meanwhile, a new video, shot from a higher angle overlooking the scene, yesterday emerged online, showing Chamroeun being ripped from his car and set upon by more than eight men. Over about 30 seconds, Chamroeun is punched, kicked, slung to the ground and stomped on.

No police or security are visible. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Chamroeun said he saw police “watch on” while Sakphea was attacked.

Both lawmakers told HRW they were directed by guards to the rarely used south gate, where men with walkie-talkies initiated the assault.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who foreshadowed the pro-CPP protest the night before, has tried to distance the CPP from the attacks, which he publicly condemned.

CNRP president Sam Rainsy, who has been in Europe, initially slammed the premier for using “fascist methods”, though on his Facebook page on Sunday noted the importance and necessity of the so-called “culture of dialogue”, an agreement between the parties to maintain civil relations.

Rainsy said he would return to Phnom Penh this evening after visiting the injured lawmakers in Thailand.

Political analyst Markus Karbaum said in an email that the country stood on the eve of its “worst political crisis since 1997”.

“The country’s prospects couldn’t be worse: It is now very unlikely that there will ever be a peaceful transition because after the collapse of the ‘Culture of Dialogue’ nobody will dare to negotiate with Hun Sen again – you just cannot rely on him and his concessions.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHAUN TURTON

MOST VIEWED

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas