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.”