The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday continued questioning plaintiffs suing Daun Penh district officials for allegedly orchestrating a mob attack three years ago, but two of the 10 people who originally joined the suit have reportedly pulled out.
The plaintiffs were among activists holding a peaceful vigil at Wat Phnom on September 22, 2013, when they were suddenly set upon by dozens of masked men in plain clothes wielding sticks, electric batons and slingshots. Police at the scene stood by as the mob beat and shocked several of the activists, and a truck loaded with some of the attackers was later seen entering a district government compound nearby.
Human rights activists protest on Monday in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which heard from plaintiffs suing officials over a 2013 attack on a peaceful vigil at Wat Phnom. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)The 10 plaintiffs filed their complaint with the court the following month against four officials: deputy district governor Sok Penhvuth, district security chief Kim Vutha, deputy district police chief Nhem Sao Nol and district council official Pech Socheata. The court started questioning them only last week.
On Monday, activist Chan Puthisak said two of the plaintiffs had decided to drop out of the case in the past few days.
“Sam Soeng told me he was going to be a soldier in Pailin [province], and Srey Sokhoeun said she had personal issues. They had no hope that the court would find justice for them,” said Mr. Puthisak, who is not a plaintiff himself.
Phan Chhunreth, a plaintiff who was questioned by the court on Monday, said she remained resolute despite the pair’s withdrawal.
“I have not forgotten [what happened] and I will not withdraw my complaint because it still hurts me,” Ms. Chhunreth said. “So I will protest until I find justice.”
The court told her on Monday that it did not have the video footage and photographic evidence submitted along with their complaint three years ago, she said. Court spokesman Ly Sophanna declined to comment.
Human rights activists protest on Monday in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which heard from plaintiffs suing officials over a 2013 attack on a peaceful vigil at Wat Phnom. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)Last week, Mr. Penhvuth and Mr. Vutha denied any part in the 2013 attack. Contacted on Monday, Mr. Sao Nol declined to discuss the allegations and hung up on reporters.
A photo distributed by those at Wat Phnom on the night of the attack shows Ms. Socheata walking next to a man holding a slingshot who appears to be coordinating the thugs and police at the scene.
Ms. Socheata said the photo must have been doctored.
“Do they have a video recording that shows me there when it happened?” she said. “I do not recognize the photo they gave the court because they are experts at Photoshop…. They just put our faces into their photos.”
odom@cambodiadaily.com
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