Kong Saphea, one of two CNRP lawmakers severely beaten outside parliament by a pro-ruling party mob last year, yesterday suggested senior CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun may have organised the pair’s assault, after Vun made comments appearing to shift the blame for the attack to the victims.
The public war of words erupted after Vun, a Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, said Saphea and Nhay Chamroeun, who were set upon as they attempted to leave the parliament on October 26, would have avoided the attack if they had not chosen to leave the assembly.
“When the parliament was meeting [they] left to be beaten,” Vun told Radio Free Asia earlier this month.“If [they] were still at the meeting, no one was going to come into the parliament and beat them.”
During the interview Vun also questioned why the victims’ drivers had stopped and allowed the pair to be dragged into the street, where they were beaten bloody.
Yesterday, Saphea took to Facebook to demand legal action against the “gangster” politician for the remarks, saying his suggestions were laughable, unreasonable and childish. Further, he suggested Vun may have been an organiser of the ambush, citing a possible motive.
“On behalf of the victims, I would like to call for the court and investigation committee [probing the beatings] to investigate his words as he knows about this story; maybe he was an organiser of this plan along with a powerful person or perpetrator, because three days before the incident I had an argument with him.”
Reached yesterday, Vun called the accusation “stupid”.
He said that he was not implying that Saphea and Chamroeun, who yesterday declined to be drawn into the feud, had intentionally left the assembly to be beaten.
“I said that if they did not leave, there would be no one beating them,” Vun said. “If I had felt rancour toward them, I would not have gone and visited them in hospital in Bangkok and proposed that the National Assembly spend money to help.”
In light of Saphea’s accusation, Vun said that he regretted his “good deed”.
The October attack followed a 2,000-strong pro-CPP rally to demand opposition leader Kem Sokha resign as parliament’s first vice president.
Though several men can be seen in video footage attacking the CNRP pair, only three – all soldiers – have been charged, and will appear in court on April 28.
Hun Sen, who alluded to the rally against Sokha the day before it happened, has denied the CPP orchestrated the violence. Along with other ruling party officials, the premier has suggested the victims provoked their attackers by shouting insults, which the pair vehemently denies.