After the arrest of wanted tycoon Sok Bun this weekend, authorities are now searching for his bodyguard, police said yesterday, though a lawyer for the woman Bun was charged with assaulting has accused the disgraced real estate magnate of obscuring the man’s identity.
Bun was picked up by authorities after flying into Phnom Penh International Airport on Saturday morning.
An arrest warrant had been issued after he was charged with committing intentional violence with aggravated circumstances, a charge stemming from an incident caught on security camera in which he viciously assaulted former TV presenter Ek Socheata, better known as Ms Sasa.
In the same video footage, Bun’s bodyguard, whose identity remains unknown, can be seen pointing a gun at Socheata.
She later claimed the bodyguard had pulled the trigger, but the pistol failed to fire.
Sok Khemarin, director of the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Penal Police, said that while information was emerging, too little is known for a warrant to be issued for the bodyguard, who has been charged with attempted murder and unauthorised use of a weapon.
“Before [Sok Bun’s arrest], we could not issue the arrest warrant, unless we knew the background [of the guard],” Khemarin said.
“When we contacted Sok Bun’s family, they still did not know.
He is Sok Bun’s bodyguard and we know only his nickname, so we cannot issue the warrant . . . But now we’ve got some information.”
The beating in which Bun and his bodyguard were involved took place on July 2, but gained national attention when footage of the incident began to circulate a week later.
In the video, Bun can be seen repeatedly kicking Socheata in the head after she allegedly rebuffed his attempts to leave the restaurant they were in with a visibly intoxicated Japanese friend of hers.
A police official confirmed on Friday that the friend had filed a separate case against Bun, accusing him of past instances of sexual assault, but Khemarin yesterday denied having received such a complaint.
In the wake of the beating, Bun reportedly fled to Singapore, and, as a result of the accusations, resigned as chair of a $500 million residential and hotel project on the Chroy Changvar peninsula.
He also resigned as the head of the local real estate association and said that he would relinquish the coveted honorific of “oknha”.
He also twice offered Socheata compensation in return for dropping the matter, but was rebuffed, and his arrest was called for in a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who warned that “Even if you settle outside of court, the prosecution will not end.”
Put Theavy, Socheata’s lawyer, yesterday accused Bun of deliberately covering for his bodyguard during questioning.
“He said he did not know his bodyguard’s background,” Theavy said. “Why doesn’t Sok Bun know his bodyguard’s address?”
Khemarin maintained yesterday that authorities “cannot let the bodyguard off the hook”.