Injured Anti-Eviction Activists File Complaint Against Local Officials

Ten residents of the Boeng Kak lake community on Friday filed a complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against four Daun Penh district officials whom they accuse of inflicting intentional violence and attempted murder after they were attacked at Wat Phnom more than two weeks ago.

On September 22, anti-eviction activists from Boeng Kak were holding a vigil at Wat Phnom when the streetlights were switched off and they were subsequently attacked by a mob of plainclothed men, which they say was orchestrated by Daun Penh district officials.

“I need to demand justice and the court has to arrest those who are listed in the complaint and put them in prison,” said 33-year-old Sou Sophal, one of the residents who was injured in the attack.

Mr. Sophal sustained a wound on his chin when he was hit with a marble fired from a slingshot. Two elderly women had to be taken to the hospital with similar injuries inflicted by marbles fired at close range, while a number of journalists and human rights monitors were attacked with electric prods and batons by the gang of men, some of whom wore surgical masks to hide their identities and appeared to work in consort with police stationed in the area.

Soung Sreyleap, who lives near Wat Phnom, said that she heard Pech Socheata, Daun Penh district councilor officer, give orders that night to the mob that attacked the protesters.

“I saw and heard Ms. Pech Socheata ordering a group of thugs to beat up and arrest Tep Vanny,” one of the leading figures in the country’s land rights movement.

A truck full of the masked men was also seen entering the nearby Daun Penh district offices following the attack.

The activists filed their complaint against Sok Penvuth, deputy Daun Penh district governor, Kim Vutha, chief of order with the Daun Penh district office, deputy district police chief Sao Nol, Ms. Socheata, the district councilor officer, and unidentified police and military police. None of those named in the complaint could be contacted for comment Friday.

Prak Savuth, chief clerk at the municipal prosecutor’s office, said that he had received the complaint.

“We have already received the complaint and I will work on this case,” Mr. Savuth said.

Deputy Daun Penh police chief Preap Borei this week said that he had already sent to the municipal court a related complaint filed by a Cambodia Daily journalist who was shocked with an electric prod at Wat Phnom that night.

Mr. Savuth, however, said that he had not received the police chief’s complaint. “I do not know about this,” he said, before declining to comment further.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, called on the authorities to investigate the attack and to end the country’s culture of impunity.

“We will not accept brutal and violent activities carried out by authorities. This is a serious violation of human rights, so the court officials have to investigate and give justice to the victims by arresting the suspects,” Mr. Sam Ath said.

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