After Verdict, Tycoon’s Bodyguard Still at Large

As real estate mogul Sok Bun kicked, stomped on and dragged pop­ular television presenter Ek So­cheata across the floor of a Phnom Penh restaurant in July, the businessman’s personal bodyguard kept his pistol drawn, occasionally pointing it at the entertainer.

Mr. Bun was found guilty of in­tentional violence with aggravating circumstances on Monday, but saw his three-year prison sentence suspended to just 10 months.

His bodyguard, however, re­mains at large, and the police official who was heading the investigation said authorities were not actively searching for him.

Ms. Socheata, known to her fans as Sasa, filed an attempted mur­der complaint against both Mr. Bun and his bodyguard after the assault on July 2, which was cap­tured by a security camera at the restaurant.

In the video—which sparked a pub­lic outcry after being posted on­line by Ms. Socheata herself—the bodyguard can be seen preventing a waiter from attempting to intervene, also putting his pistol to the entertainer’s head after Mr. Bun throws her to the ground.

According to Ms. Socheata, the bodyguard even attempted to shoot her, only to have his gun malfunction.

While both men fled after the vid­eo went viral online, Mr. Bun re­turned to face prosecution at the public urging of Prime Min­ister Hun Sen.

During Mr. Bun’s trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last month, the bodyguard re­ceived only passing mention in a written statement from Mr. Bun, who identified the man as “Vy.”

Put Theavy, Ms. Socheata’s law­­yer, said on Tuesday the body­guard was also charged by the court—with the more serious crime of attempted murder—and that he had no idea why the suspect had not been tried alongside Mr. Bun.

“The bodyguard has to be punished also…but the judge did not sentence him and we don’t know why,” Mr. Theavy said, adding that he did not plan to take further ac­tion because his client wished to put the case behind her.

Sok Khemerin, director of the Interior Ministry’s penal police department, who led the initial search for Mr. Bun, said in July that investigators were also working to locate the bodyguard.

Contacted on Tuesday, Major Gen­eral Khemerin equivocated.

“If he has committed offenses, then we are still looking to arrest him and will not give him space to escape…. But this case is out of the police’s hands,” he said, refusing to elaborate.

Investigating Judge Leang Sam­­nath and Presiding Judge Sor Linna, who oversaw the case, could not be reached.

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