Three eyewitnesses have been summoned to testify today in the case against a Banteay Meanchey opposition official accused of driving his SUV into a police officer, who appeared in video footage of the incident to collapse without being hit.
Mang Puthy, the CNRP’s deputy head of operations in Poipet City, was charged with aggravated intentional violence—punishable by up to five years in prison—after he was accused of driving into Chhean Pisith, deputy chief of the Poipet International Border Checkpoint, late last month.
Video footage of the incident shows Mr. Pisith standing in front of Mr. Puthy’s barely moving SUV before he buckles to the ground and remains motionless for several moments. He was transported from the scene in a neck brace and sent to Thailand for medical treatment.
Witnesses at the time told reporters that the suspect’s car had not struck Mr. Pisith, and the footage earned Mr. Pisith an outpouring of mockery online. A few days after the incident, footage from a Thai guest house was posted on Facebook, showing a man many identified as Mr. Pisith walking down a flight of stairs with ease.
According to Kim Socheat, Mr. Puthy’s lawyer, his client was denied bail on December 28, just days before the Thai footage surfaced. He said the court claimed it needed to ensure his safety and to keep him away from the alleged victim, as well as more time to investigate.
With witnesses Un Chivoan, Hun Seng Oeun and Nhet Neang testifying before the investigating judge today, he said the court would hear clear evidence of Mr. Puthy’s innocence.
“Those witnesses who will appear tomorrow will be beneficial to us, because they claim that they were present during the incident,” he said on Monday. “They must be aware of what happened at the time.”
Provincial court spokesman Roeun Lina could not be reached for comment, while court prosecutor Meas Chanpisith declined to comment.
Mr. Chivoan, one of the witnesses, said he was certain that Mr. Puthy was innocent of the charge.
“I will go to the court because I saw clearly what Mr. Puthy did,” he said. “I will say what I saw: His car did not move.”