The circulation manager for Cheat (Nation) newspaper, Kiet Phalla, was detained for about an hour and assaulted Tuesday in the office of Notary Counsel Benson Samay before being handed over to the penal police, Kiet Phalla said Tuesday.
Municipal Police Chief Heng Pov said Tuesday Benson Samay had accused the pro-CPP newspaper of defamation and extortion, but that Kiet Phalla, 43, was interrogated and released.
“Starting at 7 am [Tuesday] I always deliver our newspaper to CPP party offices and some high-ranking CPP officials…and to Benson Samay’s notary counsel office,” Kiet Phalla said. But on Tuesday, he was not allowed to leave the office, he said.
“Benson Samay slapped me once, then threatened to have me shot and to have me thrown in prison, and Benson Samay said, ‘If they asked you to bring a grenade and drugs to my house, would you do that too?’ Benson Samay also said, ‘You want to extort [money from] me. How brave are you?’” Kiet Phalla said.
He said he was detained by police for about five hours before he could resume his deliveries.
Benson Samay on Tuesday condemned both Cheat and the Wat Phnom newspaper. “Both local newspapers call me to extort money, about $1,000 or $1,200. They write a story to defame me and then bring it to me for money. It is a violation of my rights,” he said. “I did not slap the circulator, but I did push him to sit down. Both newspapers lack a code of ethics.”
Last August at least 140 of the 250-member Cambodian Bar Association voted to disbar Benson Samay. The move was seen as a protest of his appointment to serve as the country’s official notary counsel, which members of the bar saw as a conflict of interest.
Benson Samay has dismissed the vote, saying he was never officially notified of his disbarment. He still claims to represent former Khmer Rouge commander Ta Mok.