Khmer Front Party Questioned About Protest

The Khmer Front Party president emerged from Phnom Penh Municipal Court Thursday, saying police had filed complaints against his party for allegedly in­juring law enforcement officers during a peaceful demonstration on Aug 31, which police brutally suppressed.

“The judge told me he had sum­moned me to the court be­cause two police officials had com­plained to [Municipal Gov­ernor] Kep Chuktema,” Suth Di­na told reporters.

“Kep Chuktema agreed with the court complaint because the two police officers said the students attacked them and broke one’s leg and the glass in the other’s watch,” he said.

Last August, City Hall denied the Khmer Front Party permission to protest against the CPP’s victory in the July 27 general elections and against territorial en­croach­ment by Vietnam and Thailand.

Regardless, some 25 students turned out to march to the Na­tion­al Assembly. They were met by scores of baton-swinging intervention police, who split open the head of at least one student.

Nineteen protesters, including Suth Dina and Khmer Front Dep­uty President Sun Sokun­mealea, were forcibly arrested and taken to Munic­i­pal Police headquarters. Po­lice officials denied using excessive force and said the protesters had on­ly been “invited” for questioning.

Judge Tan Senarong, who interviewed Suth Dina Thursday, confirmed that police had made complaints against the Khmer Front Party. Kep Chuktema and police were seeking jail time, not compensation, from a criminal trial, the judge said. He said he would not de­cide whether arrests will be made until after he interviews Sun Sokunmealea on Monday.

Kep Chuktema said Thursday that he was too busy to comment on the case.

Sun Sokunmealea, speaking Thursday outside the court house, said it was the Khmer Front that should have filed complaints. But “it’s useless to file complaints against the authorities be­cause the court belongs to them,” she said.

Party members said Thurs­day that they had agreed to end their march when confronted by po­lice, but police beat them with batons anyway. “At the time, police didn’t ask any questions or ask our reason, they just fought,” said Chan Thai, 26.

After his questioning, Suth Dina denied the party was guilty. “We did not have the strength to do anything against the police. Only 30 students cannot provoke any chaos in the city,” he said.

He added that the Khmer Front will continue to demonstrate “if there is injustice.”

 

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