Thousands of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters gathered yesterday to put their thumbprints to a petition declaring themselves possible witnesses to defend party leader Kem Sokha, who is being sued by the mother of his alleged former mistress at the Prey Veng Provincial Court.
Sam Phalla, 62, has claimed that after she and her daughter, Keo Sophannary, 41, pleaded for financial support from Sokha at a Prey Veng rally earlier this month, he ordered his bodyguards to beat her so severely that she required hospital treatment.
At Prey Veng stadium yesterday, however, witnesses to the alleged event remained resolute that nothing untoward had occurred.
Long Vuthy, a bystander who claimed to have escorted the women to their motorbike after they interrupted Sokha, said he could not believe the claims.
“I am the person who intervened and brought the two women to their motorbike to leave. They smiled at me and left but later I heard on the radio that they were both sent to Calmette Hospital for emergency treatment. I was beyond surprised,” he said in front of the crowd.
“I will not only make a thumbprint to become a witness for Kem Sokha but I will also make a toe print!”
Another CNRP supporter, Kong Keub, said that after the women cursed at Sokha and were leaving, he had personally warned the bodyguards not to mistreat the women.
“I wonder whether someone else hit them and they went to Calmette Hospital and how much they are being paid . . . I hate [this] injustice,” he said.
Purported witness Eal Saron claimed yesterday to have a video of the incident in question and said that the case was a political stunt.
“It’s very clear that politicians are behind this and I am willing to be a witness if the court needs one,” he said.
On June 19, Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to launch an official complaint against CNRP officials if they continued to say that Sokha’s alleged affairs – salacious details of which were released by the government’s press unit – were a CPP-created myth.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that although Cambodian society values women’s rights, Sokha had proved that he would be a leader that does not respect women.
“I think that we should not talk about the election campaign and we should talk about human rights. Kem Sokha violated women’s rights,” he said.