In a bizarre series of events, only days after being vindicated by the Supreme Court, Phnom Penh International University rector Tep Kolap claimed to have been chased across Phnom Penh yesterday evening by men who shot at her car as she sought refuge in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home.
“Police have been ordered to investigate the shooting,” said Phnom Penh municipal police chief Touch Naruth, speaking from Kolap’s home last night.
According to Naruth, a warrant was issued by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for an outstanding charge against the beleaguered rector, and police will accompany her to court today for questioning.
Speaking by phone, an audibly distraught Kolap said a group of men began following her as soon as she left the Khmer-Soviet Friendship hospital, where she had been receiving medical treatment following her release.
“About seven or nine men chased me as I was leaving the hospital. And then they shot at me three times,” said Kolap.
“We tried to go to some embassies, but the embassies didn’t open the doors. Then one of my nephews drove to the prime minister’s house … and then all the bodyguards came out and they brought me into the security office.”
Although details were still sketchy last night, several witnesses outside Hun Sen’s house confirmed much of Kolap’s account, saying her car was pursued by six motorbikes carrying passengers in civilian clothing.
“They tried to stop her and make her come out of the car. One of the men following her fired bullets into the car,” a witness who declined to give her name said. As she spoke, police hastened to clean up shattered glass from outside the mansion’s gates, while bodyguards and military police tried to move along the gathering onlookers.
On Friday, the high court dropped embezzlement charges filed against Kolap who, along with her husband, was convicted last year of embezzling $58 million from ruling-party senator Kok An.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun declined to comment.
But Long Dara, a defence lawyer for Kok An, said last night that the embezzlement case was just one of three filed against the couple in 2010 and 2011, and that he believed arrest warrants for the other charges had been issued already.