The Appeal Court on Thursday heard the case against three members of Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit who attacked former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmakers Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sophea.
Chamroeun and Sophea filed an appeal in the case as they were dissatisfied with the 40 million riel ($10,000) compensation awarded to them by the lower court.
On October 26, 2015, Sophea, from Prey Veng province, and Chamroeun, from Kampong Cham province, were dragged from a car and beaten as they were leaving the National Assembly.
The assault occurred as more than 1,000 supporters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party surrounded the parliament building, calling on CNRP Deputy President Kem Sokha to step down as first vice president of the National Assembly.
The previous day, Prime Minister Hun Sen, speaking in Paris, threatened to retaliate against the CNRP for allegedly organising protests against him in the French capital.
Thursday’s civil trial was heard by three judges, presided over by Judge Nhoung Thol.
Khout Sopheang is the prosecutor in the case. The three suspects – Mao Hoeun, 34, Chay Sarith, 33, and Sot Vanny, 45 – and their defence team did not appear in court.
And while the plaintiffs were also absent, their legal counsel, Ket Ky, Chuong Choungy and Sam Sokong, argued their case.
Choungy told the judges that his clients appealed because they were not satisfied with the compensation the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered the suspects to pay – 40 million riel each. His clients, he said, were seeking 100 million riel each.
“The compensation awarded is inappropriate and not balanced with the damage to their property and the serious injuries my clients suffered. This is even before you consider the reputations of my clients, who were lawmakers and represented not just their respective provinces but the whole country,” he told the court.
Defence lawyer Choungy expressed disappointment that, while his clients sought charges of attempted murder against the trio, the municipal court charged them with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances instead.
“I ask the Appeal Court to reconsider this case,” he told the judge.
Ky, another defence lawyer, said Chamroeun, who nearly lost an ear during the assault, has spent a lot of money on medical treatment. His car was also seriously damaged and could only be sold for $10,000, a third of what he paid for it.
“My clients sought 100 million riel each in damages, but they were awarded only 40 million riel. Please, judges, reconsider the amount of compensation my clients are entitled to,” he said.
In the criminal trial, the municipal court sentenced the three bodyguards to four years in prison, with three years suspended. They were the only ones charged in the attack, despite video footage showing at least 16 people participating in the assault. A month later, Vanny and Hoeun were promoted to colonel.