Stay calm and don’t jump to conclusions over the widely scorned arrest of local opposition leader Mang Puthy, Banteay Meanchey provincial prosecutors said on Wednesday, claiming that Facebook critics lacked context about the case.
“The spokesman of the Banteay Meanchey provincial court hopes and believes that the public will stay quiet and wait for the outcome of the court’s procedure to end and avoid making conclusions without clear evidence and information,” prosecutors said in a two-page statement released on Wednesday.
Prosecutors claim that Mr. Puthy, the CNRP’s deputy head of operations in Poipet City, intentionally caused serious injury to Chhean Pisith, deputy chief of the Poipet International Border Checkpoint, on Thursday by supposedly hitting the officer with his car at the checkpoint.
But video footage of the incident shows Mr. Pisith collapsing to the ground in front of an SUV moving at snail’s pace, a version of events backed by eyewitnesses.
As memes and mockery have piled up on Facebook, the provincial prosecutors’ statement attempted to justify the charges of intentional violence they filed on Saturday against Mr. Puthy, who is now imprisoned.
The statement said the incident began when motorbike-taxi driver Ung Khean called Mr. Puthy for help in having his seized motorbike returned by immigration police. Mr. Puthy, nicknamed Din, drove his SUV to the checkpoint and tried unsuccessfully to negotiate the motorbike’s release. When Mr. Khean hopped into the Lexus SUV with hopes of returning home, Mr. Pisith rushed to stop the car.
“But Din Puthy kept trying to drive the car away, causing it to hit Chhean Pisith’s right leg. He collapsed and his head hit the ground, knocking him unconscious,” it reads.
Prosecutors contend that they “thoroughly examined” video clips and eyewitness accounts before charging Mr. Puthy.
However, Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said investigators only interviewed officials.