Conflicting Reports Over Oknha’s Whereabouts

Police leading the search for a real-estate magnate caught on video brutally beating a female television personality said Friday that they heard he fled to Singapore, while a woman at his Phnom Penh villa said he had not left the city.

Security footage emerged Wednesday of Sok Bun, who holds the royally bestowed title of “oknha,” attacking entertainer Ek Socheata, better known as Sasa, in a minute-long flurry of kicks, punches and stomps on the head at a Phnom Penh restaurant in the early hours of July 2. 

Sok Khemarin, director of the Interior Ministry’s penal police department, said his search for Mr. Bun began on July 2, when Ms. Socheata filed a complaint over the assault, but had so far turned up nothing.

“We started [to search] after we received the complaint but we can’t find Oknha Sok Bun,” Major General Khemarin said. “We heard he has fled to Singapore.”

A deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court said Thursday that he had summoned Mr. Bun for questioning Wednesday. Maj. Gen. Khemarin said Friday that he had since requested a warrant to arrest Mr. Bun.

The prosecutor, Hing Bunthan, declined to comment Friday, as did his clerk, Leng Nang.

A visit to the listed address of the Sok Bun Group took reporters to a villa in Chamkar Mon district, where a woman who answered calls from the security gate denied that Mr. Bun had fled to Singapore.“He has just left the house,” she said, declining to comment further or identify herself.

Ms. Socheata said Friday that she was in a Bangkok hospital receiving treatment for her injuries, which appeared to be mostly superficial wounds and bruising.

The TV star denied reports in Khmer-language newspapers that she was demanding $1 million in compensation from Mr. Bun.

“We [are] not yet thinking about money,” she said in a text message.

Following the attack in the restaurant on Koh Pich island, Ms. Socheata said that she had been protecting her friend, the Japanese owner of the restaurant, from the unwanted advances of Mr. Bun.

The footage shows Ms. Socheata intervening as Mr. Bun and his bodyguard attempt to take away the Japanese woman, who appeared to have fallen asleep on a couch at the restaurant after drinking heavily with the two men.

During the attack, in which Ms. Socheata was first dragged by her hair across a table, the bodyguard drew a pistol and put it to her head while also deflecting a waiter’s attempts to intervene.

Police said Thursday that they were also seeking the bodyguard, who has not been identified.

In an interview the same day, Ms. Socheata refused to identify the Japanese woman out of fear for her safety.

“I believe every national is afraid of Cambodia’s legal system,” she said, referring to the lack of protection for witnesses and victims in the country.

“Even now I am suing Mr. Sok Bun, she is also concerned about me,” Ms. Socheata said.

“She feels sorry for me that she can’t help me and she said she can’t do anything besides hiding or going to Japan.”

(Additional reporting by Huot Chanpav and Matt Blomberg)

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