Court report reveals judge’s account of attack and his escape
A day after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered that the men who brutally attacked a Mondolkiri Provincial Court judge be brought to justice, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday charged three men, including two government officials, for the crime, court and police officials said yesterday.
On Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered that the minister of justice transfer the court investigation into the Dec 4 attack on Judge Meng Tony, 28, who was pistol whipped and beaten by two men, to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
“National Military Police arrested three suspects who committed violence against the Mondolkiri province judge,” Phnom Penh deputy police chief Pen Rath said yesterday. Mr. Rath said the suspects were charged at the municipal court on Saturday, but he declined to identify the suspects or say when they were arrested.
A clerk with the municipal court, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said the court charged Chit Kunthol, deputy inspector general of the
Ministry of Labor’s inspection department, and Chhing Chanbo, deputy director of the Mondolkiri provincial land management, urban planning and construction department, with aggravated assault.
The clerk said that a third man was also charged, but he did not know his name or whether he too was a government official.
A copy of a report by Mondolkiri prosecutor Khut Sopheang details Judge Tony’s account of the attack that led to him being hospitalized in Vietnam with head and body injuries.
According to Judge Tony’s statement to the prosecutor, the attack allegedly came after an afternoon of being physically abused by Mr. Kunthol and Mr. Chanbo at Angkor Forest Restaurant in Sen Monorom City.
In his statement, the judge does not give a motive for the attack.
“We drank until 4 pm. Chit Kunthol asked me to shake his hand, ordered me to bow my head, asked to beat my head and slapped my face one time,” Judge Tony is quoted as saying in the court report.
After not allowing Judge Tony to leave the table they were drinking at, “Chit Kunthol also punched me one time in my face.”
At about 4 pm, Mr. Kunthol and Mr. Chanbo dragged Judge Tony into a truck with an unidentified driver.
“Chhing Chanbo also carried me and punched me a few times and then he forced me into Chit Kunthol’s truck and drove,” Judge Tony said.
Once in the Toyota Tundra, according to Judge Tony’s account, the violence escalated.
“Chit Kunthol punched my face again and asked me if I knew him. I answered ‘I don’t know you,’ and he repeated this action many times,” Judge Tony said, adding that his attackers told him they were taking him to Phnom Penh.
“I told them: ‘Please let me go free,’ but [Mr. Kunthol] hit me with the butt of his pistol two or three times and punched me some more,” he said.
Judge Tony said that when his attackers stopped hitting him, he opened the door of the truck, jumped out and ran into the forest. He later crawled back onto National Road 76 and fell asleep until another vehicle stopped and helped him.
A copy of the letter, dated Dec 5, from prosecutor Khut Sopheang to Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana also identifies Mr. Kunthol and Mr. Chanbo as Judge Tony’s attackers.
Sam Sarin, Mondolkiri provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that he too did not know the identity of the third charged man.
“I think that there are more suspects involved with the case, even though three suspects were arrested already,” he said.
Srun Leang, director of Prey Sar Prison’s Correctional Center I, said that three men charged in the attack on Judge Tony were placed in pretrial detention there yesterday morning. However, Mr. Leang could not remember the names of the suspects.
According to Judge Tony’s statement, seven others—Thuy Chanthan, Chhit Sophal, Sok Kan, Mr. Kunthol’s unidentified driver and three men only identified as Soeurn, Phloy and Eang—were also with him at the restaurant, but did not help when the attack started.