Interior Minister Sar Kheng said Tuesday that police officials were conspiring with real-estate magnate Sok Bun to help him avoid arrest, a week after security camera footage emerged that shows him viciously assaulting a female television personality at a restaurant in Phnom Penh.
During a speech at the Interior Ministry about border disputes with Vietnam, Mr. Kheng said he was aware of a number of officials assisting Mr. Bun, who, according to those leading the investigation, has fled to Singapore.
“I know the officials who are covering it up. It is not as if I don’t know that they have prevented it [Mr. Bun’s arrest],” the interior minister said.
“We have issued an arrest warrant, and wherever he is, the government orders his arrest,” he said.
“Although we become friends, we should not conspire with those who have done wrong,” he said, adding that such conspiracy was tantamount to cursing Prime Minister Hun Sen and the entire police force.
Sok Khemarin, director of the Interior Ministry’s penal police department, is leading the investigation into Mr. Bun and has said the tycoon fled to Singapore last Tuesday.
On Friday, however, a woman at Mr. Bun’s villa in Chamkar Mon district said he had not left Phnom Penh.
The victim, Ek Socheata, better known as Sasa, received medical treatment in Bangkok for superficial injuries she suffered in the attack, during which she was dragged across a table by her hair, pinned to the ground, and repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped on.
Mr. Bun’s bodyguard, who has not been identified, had his pistol drawn during the assault, at one point holding it to Ms. Socheata’s head.
Although the attack occurred in the early hours of July 2—and was reported to police later that day—it remained out of the news until July 7, when security camera footage began to circulate online. Only on July 8 did Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Hing Bunthorn summon Mr. Bun to the courthouse for questioning.
“Since we received her complaint, we have worked hard to arrest Sok Bun, but we cannot find him,” Major General Khemarin said Tuesday. “He left Cambodia before the court issued the [summons] for him.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Tuesday that police leading the investigation were wrong in their assertion that Mr. Bun had fled to Singapore.
“They can say that, but he is in the country,” General Sopheak said.
“You are winking with your left eye and punching with your right hand,” he said of the officials colluding with Mr. Bun while simultaneously pretending to look for him.
Through his lawyer, Yin Sophy, Mr. Bun on Tuesday issued a statement enumerating seven steps he had taken to move on from an “uncontrollable dispute” that had “caused injuries on both sides.”
Mr. Bun said he had relinquished his royally bestowed title of “oknha,” as well as his position as president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association and the TEHO-SBG Development Co.
He also requested that the judicial system allow him to receive treatment for “serious stress for a while” and asked that he be afforded “justice, physically and spiritually, especially love and forgiveness” as his life’s achievements had been lost.
In his statement, however, Mr. Bun did not directly apologize to Ms. Socheata.
“I would like to contribute USD 100,000 to Ms. Sasa for medical treatment and living expenses,” he said, asking her and her family to “stop the anger and not take vengeance.”
Ms. Socheata said Tuesday that while she would accept the compensation and donate it to charity, she would not cease legal action against Mr. Bun, whom she says she has sued for attempted murder.
“I think his apology is too late,” she said.