Monday, 16 September 2019 06:52 GMT

Cambodia: Men confess to beating opposition lawmakers

(MENAFN - The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Three men have handed themselves in to Cambodian police saying they were among those responsible for a violent attack on two opposition lawmakers outside the country's National Assembly last week.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak was quoted in the Phnom Penh Post on Wednesday as saying that the three -- who range in age from 33 to 45 -- had presented themselves to the investigative commission established in the wake of the attack.

In video footage uploaded to Facebook on Wednesday the three were seen arriving in a van at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court where they were escorted inside by police.

On Oct. 26 Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmakers Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Saphea were being driven from the National Assembly in separate cars when they were set upon by a mob of pro-government protesters who had been holding a rally.

The rally was being held to protest the CNRP’s deputy leader Kem Sokha who was also the vice-president of the assembly.

On Friday he was officially ousted from that assembly position by 68 ruling Cambodian People’s Party lawmakers in a vote that was boycotted by the opposition.

The two lawmakers were dragged from their cars and beaten in an attack with many witnesses captured both on smartphones and CCTV cameras.

Both victims had to be transferred to a hospital in Bangkok to be treated for their injuries.

Sokha paid them a visit there and was joined by CNRP leader Sam Rainsy -- who had been in Europe -- on Tuesday. Both men arrived back in Phnom Penh later that night.

Neither Sopheak nor CNRP spokesmen Yim Sovann and Yem Ponharith could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Political analyst Ou Virak said he has no doubt that the men’s identities are known to government officials on the investigative committee “and if they are from a bodyguard unit or working for a security or paramilitary force the government knew who they worked for also”.

He said they were likely ordered by their superiors to hand themselves in but “unless we cast a wide enough net in his case…. they will be seen as scapegoats sacrificial lambs who will probably be protected by superiors and get something in return maybe some monetary support for their families".

Sokha’s appointment as vice-president of the National Assembly in Aug. 2014 came after a deal was brokered between the two parties to end a deadlock that began after both claimed victory in the July 2013 national elections.

By Lauren Crothers

Cambodia: Men confess to beating opposition lawmakers

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