Boeung Kak activists stand trial for ‘intentional assault’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Boeung Kak activist Nhet Khun (centre), 77, speaks to reporters in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Hong Menea

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday heard a case of intentional violence against four Boeung Kak community activists following an incident two years ago in which a woman, Sat Pha, alleges she was assaulted and had $300 and a mobile phone taken.

Deputy prosecutor Seng Heang summoned Nhet Khun and three daughters Eng Huoy, Eng Srey Heang and Eng Sokha to Wednesday’s hearing to answer to the June 2017 charge under Article 217 of the Criminal Code.

Nhet Khun, 77, said she believed the case was intimidation and an attempt to stop them from engaging in ongoing protests by the wife of jailed Cambodian Construction Workers Trade Union Federation president Rath Rott Mony, Long Kimheang, against his detention.

Rott Mony is being held over his alleged role as a producer of a controversial documentary, My Mother Sold Me, that was aired in October by Russian state news network RT, formerly Russia Today. He claims he was only an intermediary and translator for the film.

“The summons to the hearing came after we participated in a protest with Long Kimheang to demand the release of Rath Rott Mony. They want to separate us. However, we will continue to help Rath Rott Mony because I want justice,” she said.

Eng Sokha alleged they were pressured to thumbprint a document. She said they wanted to carefully read the document but were not allowed to do so.

“A clerk wrote an exaggerated note that we insulted the victim and that Eng Huoy was at the scene and stopped [an argument], but some of us were not even there. This is an injustice. [We] hope the court will drop the charge against us,” she said.

Nhet Khun said after the hearing that she and her daughters had appeared, while Sat Pha was absent.

Sat Pha, the plaintiff, said she had had an argument with the four women and filed a complaint with commune police. She said she had not received a single court summons since filing the complaint.

She said she was also unaware that the hearing was taking place.

“I ask only for justice. I filed a complaint with the police because I was angry that they hit me, and I lost some $300 and a mobile phone. I want compensation. But I don’t know what they have been charged with because I have never received any letters from the court,” she said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court is due to announce its verdict on April 1. Court spokesman Ly Sophana could not be reached for comment.