The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday issued an arrest warrant for property mogul Sok Bun, more than two weeks after he allegedly savagely beat a former TV hostess in a Phnom Penh restaurant.
Shortly after the warrant was issued, Prime Minister Hun Sen demanded Bun’s quick arrest and suggested he would not be able to buy himself out of trouble.
“Even if you settle outside of court, the prosecution will not end,” he said during a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education.
The warrant, signed by municipal court prosecutor Hing Bunthorn and issued by investigative judge Leang Samnath, says Bun has been charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, while his as-yet-unidentified bodyguard faces charges of attempted murder and using a weapon without permission.
The charges relate to an incident at the Higashiyama restaurant in Phnom Penh in the early hours of July 2, when Bun brutally assaulted Ek Socheata, allegedly after she threw a phone while attempting to prevent him from taking advantage of her drunken friend.
Throughout the attack, Bun’s bodyguard can be seen waving a pistol, which at one point he holds to her head. Socheata, who is more widely known by her TV persona Ms Sasa, last week alleged he pulled the trigger but the gun didn’t go off.
While Sasa made a complaint to authorities on the same day as the incident, Bun was not summonsed to court until July 8, a day after security camera footage began circulating on social media and was publicised on national television. That summons stipulated he should appear in court on July 21, though he is now formally wanted for arrest.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Sar Kheng warned police officers against shielding Bun from justice, suggesting he knew of officials who had been doing just that.
Director of the Interior Ministry’s Penal Police Department Sok Khemrin yesterday said he would be sending the warrant to Interpol.
“We do not know in which country he is, but we do know he [initially] left Phnom Penh for Singapore,” he said.
A letter released late on Tuesday evening, signed by a Dr Mahen Nadarajah of the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore, claimed that Bun would not be able to travel “for a number of months” due to an unspecified, pre-existing medical condition.
But the National Neuroscience Institute yesterday said that Dr Nadarajah has not been employed by them since December 2014.
While undated, the letter directly refers to Bun having been “asked to travel back to Cambodia”, suggesting it was written since he arrived last week.
Bun himself publicised three letters on Tuesday through his lawyer, Yin Sophy, one of which included an offer of $100,000 in compensation to Sasa. She told the Post at the time that both that offer and a previous one of $40,000 had been rejected.
Sasa is also scheduled to appear in court, having been summonsed to present her evidence on July 27.
But as Sasa will be in Thailand for a medical check-up at that time for injuries sustained during the attack, she is instead expected to appear today, according to her lawyer, Puth Theavy.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA