Cart-Puller’s Wife Quizzed Over Clash

In an apparent case of mistaken identity, the wife of a handcart-puller who was beaten and seriously injured by military police during protests in Poipet City in May was on Tuesday questioned at the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court over property damage allegedly caused by another woman.

On May 25, about 100 cart-pullers gathered outside the customs office at the Poipet International Checkpoint to demonstrate against arbitrary fees charged by officials for goods transported back and forth across the Thai-Cambodian border.

When the protesters clashed with military police at the scene, cart-puller Mao Sun, 32, was badly beaten and hospitalized. False rumors of his death then led protesters to attack the customs office in retaliation, causing an estimated $20,000 worth of damage.

On Tuesday, Mr. Sun’s wife, Ran Sreymom, 27, was called to the court over accusations of damaging the office and officials’ cars.

“The court accused Ms. Ray Mom, but my name is Ran Sreymom,” said Ms. Sreymom. “They have ordered me to bring my family book for proof, but I keep it in my native home in Svay Rieng.”

“I explained to them that during the riots, I was in the Poipet City referral hospital looking after my husband,” she said. “The court already knows me because I came to court when my husband was summoned.”

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that Ms. Sreymom was also asked if she recognized photographs of two local CNRP officials who investigators suspect are responsible for inciting the protest, Chao Vesna and Din Puthy.

“We are watching this case very closely and taking it very seriously,” Mr. Chankea said. “We think the investigating judge will summon other cart-pullers to gather evidence in order to place the blame on these two men.”

Ms. Mreymom said a cart-puller named Hul Kanha, 26, was also called to the court on Tuesday, but was not questioned. She said the court allowed her to return home but ordered her to return in April with her family book.

Investigating Judge Ek Polyphill could not be reached.

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