Three of four victims of a vicious beating – allegedly at the hands of one of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s aides and three others – have accepted between $3,000 and $5,000 to withdraw their complaints, police said yesterday.
Lay Menglaing, chief of the minor crime police office in Koh Kong province, said victims Sang Thairath, 32, Norng Suden, 42, and Eang Kosal, 30, had withdrawn complaints relating to the violent beating – captured on CCTV footage and uploaded to YouTube – in a hotel in Koh Kong province on April 22.
“Sang Thirath and Norng Suden received $3,000 each because they got minor injuries, and Eang Kosal received $5,000 because he’s a military police officer – a government official.”
Victim Norng Suden confirmed he was not taking the matter further because he did not want any more trouble with the suspects.
“I received $3,000 compensation to treat my injuries,” he said. “I was beaten in the face until my teeth were broken,” he said. “It depends on the court’s decision whether any more action will be taken.”
Norng Suden said he did not believe Bun Sokha, who is a deputy chief of staff in the prime minister’s bodyguard unit, would have intimidated him if he had persisted with the complaint.
“I fear him. He is powerful, but I believe this would not have happened. He promised us.”
Victim Sang Thairath said even less about the incident.
“I have never filed a complaint against [Bun Sokha]. I compromised on the 24th,” he said. “The [suspects] apologised to us. I don’t want to talk a lot, and I don’t want to have the media write about this.”
Eang Kosal and the fourth victim, Phat Sokha, the most seriously injured in the attack, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Bun Sokha along with two bodyguards and a driver were seen in a video beating four men while arguing over a lost necklace at a room Bun Sokha and his wife were staying in.
Lay Menglaing said yesterday the suspects had “really committed the crime as seen in that video”.
“It’s actual crime. Their behaviour was not appropriate,” he said.
“Withdrawing complaints were done with the court, so it’s not police’s role to judge whether to release or remain detaining the suspects,” he said. “It’s the court’s right.”
Investigating judge Kham Sophary declined to comment yesterday.
Neang Boratino, provincial coordinator of human rights group Adhoc, said the case was serious and should continue.
“If these suspects are released, it shows Cambodian law still bows to powerful men’s influence – because we have concrete evidence.”
In Kong Chet, provincial coordinator for human rights group Licadho, said that because it could take up to three years for a trial to end, the victims had been forced to accept compensation to pay for medical treatment.
Bun Sokha, his bodyguards Sum Veasna and Meang Chheangly and driver Sum Chhaiya face jail terms of three to five years if convicted on charges of “intentional violence”.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]