Court Investigates Kem Sokha’s Role in Alleged Assault

A judicial official on Sunday confirmed that the Prey Veng Provincial Court is investigating claims made by the mother of a woman purporting to be the abandoned mistress of opposition leader Kem Sokha that his bodyguards assaulted her at an opposition campaign event held last week.

Sam Phalla, 62, was admitted to Calmette Hospital on Friday after Mr. Sokha’s bodyguards allegedly hit her in the chest and stomach in Prey Veng province. During the in­cident, Ms. Phalla was with her daughter, Keo Sophannary, 41, who has already sued Mr. Sokha, acting president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for $10,000 she says she is owed to support their two adopted children.

“Is it a criminal case. If the court finds that Mr. Sokha ordered his bodyguards to cause violence, he can be imprisoned to between one and three years,” said Prey Veng Provincial Court director Sok Kalyan, referring to the alleged assault made against Ms. Phalla. He added that the court would make a decision on whether or not to pursue the case by the end of the week.

The lawsuit filed against Mr. Sokha is just the latest in an in­creasingly hostile number of verbal attacks being made against the opposition leader in the run-up to the national election on July 28.

Making matters worse for Mr. So­kha, victims of the Khmer Rouge regime on Friday also filed a defamation lawsuit against him for comments he made recently that appeared to deny crimes that took place in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Sleng prison.

Not only has Mr. Sokha been forced to deny his relationship with Ms. Sophannary, but Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday accused him of purchasing sex from a 15-year-old girl in 2011, an allegation he has also denied.

Speaking to villagers on Saturday at the inauguration of a new library in his wife’s hometown of Kroch Chmar in Kompong Cham province, Mr. Hun Sen continued his onslaught against Mr. Sokha .

“He has even denied his own mistress. At this time a complaint is being lodged against him [Mr. Sokha] for fighting with his mistress’ mother,” he said. “He should just say I don’t know what happened rather than accusing the CPP for the incident…. This is so dirty to have a sexual scandal.”

“My compatriots should think about this issue. If he is not sympathetic to his own wife, how can he be sympathetic to you,” he asked.

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the CNRP, said the many attacks being made against Mr. Sokha recently had been entirely manufactured by the ruling party in order to tarnish his image ahead of the election. “These allegations are all untrue and they have been created to put blame on Mr. Sokha in a court that will provide no justice,” he said.

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