Two human rights activists, who were summoned to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday over allegations that they incited an attack on two Daun Penh district security guards in October, asked the court to have the real perpetrators arrested.
Am Sam Ath, a senior monitoring manager for rights group Licadho, and Chan Puthisak, a Boeung Kak community representative, attended a World Habitat Day protest on October 10 that turned violent.
Videos of the protest show Mr. Puthisak attempting to reason with security guards who were taking a protester’s drum. The guards then beat Mr. Puthisak in full view of dozens of protesters and cameras.
Mr. Sam Ath tried to stop the assault but was also beaten. Both men sustained serious injuries and were forced to seek medical attention after the protest.
On November 4, two of the security guards involved in the beating filed a complaint claiming they were injured during the fracas. The warrant says Mr. Sam Ath and Mr. Puthisak are accused of “instigating intentional violence” under articles 27 and 217 of the Criminal Code.
The men face up to three years in prison if found guilty.
Speaking to reporters after his court appearance yesterday, Mr. Sam Ath said he denied the accusations and also denied knowing the security guards.
“They summoned me for questioning as a suspect who caused the violence, but they have not charged anyone yet,” he said.
He added that he informed the court about the beating by five or six security guards and requested that prosecutors investigate to have them arrested and sentenced under the law.
“I did not demand compensation because they do not have a salary. I want the court to implement the law and avoid having other people do as they did,” Mr. Sam Ath said.
He added that he thought the case was unrelated to politics, saying he thought the security guards were merely afraid, which made them file a complaint before he did.
If the court and prime minister examine all the evidence, he believes the security guards will not be able to cause any future problems that may affect the government’s reputation.
“I would like the court to seek justice for me as a victim. After I provided answers to the court, I can become a victim and the court can provide justice for me,” he added.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophana said prosecutors were working on the case by checking all documents and evidence as well as listening to relevant individuals’ answers.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists released a statement on Tuesday condemning the summons and demanding the government not only drop the charges, but investigate the security guards who attacked peaceful demonstrators.
Source: Khmer Times