Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the opposition CNRP’s top Phnom Penh official, ordering all relevant forces to bring in the politician over a clash at an election campaign rally that he has maintained he did not attend.
According to the warrant, signed by Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Sieng Sok on Monday and released publicly last night, Morn Phalla, head of the party’s Phnom Penh executive committee, is to be brought to the Meanchey district police station for questioning over suspected intentional violence with aggravating circumstances.
Mr. Phalla has ignored four summonses to appear for questioning at the police station, according to the officer in charge of the case.
On May 28, a week before this year’s commune elections, a group of 10 CNRP supporters participating in a campaign procession allegedly attacked a man trying to cross the street on his motorbike.
A police complaint by Sek Samon, a 27-year-old dump truck driver, says the group threw keys at him and beat him after an argument.
Witnesses, however, have said that Mr. Samon punched a photographer who was trying to take his photograph.
Mr. Sok, the deputy court prosecutor, declined to comment on the case.
Mr. Phalla could not be reached last night, but said in a statement sent to a reporter on Tuesday he rejected the accusations and said he had charged his lawyers with responding to authorities.
“For me, I absolutely did not know about, did not see and did not commit the violence, with aggravating circumstances, as the warrant alleges,” Mr. Phalla said.
He would not answer questions about whether he was still in Phnom Penh.
CNRP vice president Eng Chhay Eang said the action taken against Mr. Phalla was “politically motivated.”
“Mr. Morn Phalla did not have any involvement. It’s election campaign case,” Mr. Chhay Eang said, suggesting the issue should be resolved by the National Election Committee, not the courts.
Meanchey district deputy police chief Huor Meng Vang, the officer in charge, said that as far as he was concerned, he was simply taking action on a criminal case.
“On the day of the incident, he was the one who led the campaign. So we want to ask him about this issue, but has never shown up,” Mr. Meng Vang said.