Council of Ministers Official Slaps Schoolgirl

A Council of Ministers official was arrested in Phnom Penh on Wednesday after he showed up at his daughter’s high school and slapped her classmate following a fight between the two teenagers, police and witnesses said Thursday.

The attack occurred at Chea Sim Boeng Keng Kang High School in Chamkar Mon district shortly after the official’s daughter, Pun Sophavy, got into an argument and hair-pulling match with Nhem Chanthida, 16, with whom she had recently had a falling out, according to Chanthida.

“She talked bad about me and it hurt my reputation,” Chanthida said Thursday. “We fought for about two minutes, and a few minutes later her father came and hit me.”

“He hit me very hard on the face…. It still hurts now and my face is swollen,” she added.

Sy Molin, deputy chief of the district police’s penal bureau, said that Sophavy’s father, Tep Khuon, 49, was an official at the Council of Ministers and was arrested immediately following the incident.

“The two students had argument and then one girl called her father,” Mr. Molin said. “When he got to the school, he went to the victim and hit her.”

He said Mr. Khuon remained in police custody Thursday and would be sent to court to face charges of intentional violence. He refused to specify the man’s position at the Council of Ministers.

Phay Siphan, the spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said he had heard of the incident but did not know of the man.

“There are more than 2,000 people in the Council of Ministers and I have no idea,” he said. However, he added that he hoped Mr. Khuon would be prosecuted.

“One, he abused a woman, and the government should discourage people from abusing a woman, and second, she is a minor, a child, so the prosecutor should take that gentleman to court.”

A video of the attack posted to Facebook on Wednesday shows Mr. Khuon slapping Ms. Chanthida hard across the face after claiming that he had “permission from the school principal.”

Ngov Chhunhak, the principal, said he neither gave Mr. Khuon permission to enter the school property, nor hit Chanthida.

“I didn’t let him enter the school,” he said. “It was the vice principal who let him in.”

Mom Siman, the vice principal, said Mr. Khuon had called about the fight between the two girls.

“He did call me, and told me that the girl hit his daughter,” Mr. Siman said, adding that he then gave Mr. Khuon permission to come to the school.

“He asked me what should be done,” he said. “I told him to bring the girl to me, but he hit the girl.”

(Additional reporting by Julia Wallace)

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