Koh Kong provincial court officially charged three bodyguards of the prime minister with intentional acts of violence, for the alleged beatings of four men in a personal dispute at a hotel.
Bun Sokha, 38, the deputy chief of staff of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, was detained Sunday alongside Som Veansna, 37, and Meng Chheang, 21, after an altercation at the Koh Kong City Hotel. They were charged under the new penal code and will face an investigation. A fourth man, driver Sum Chhaiya, 25, was also detained.
Police said the assault allegedly took place when the victim, Sieng Thairath, 32, and a hotel guard tried to retrieve a necklace from a room he had vacated at the hotel.
However, the room was occupied by Bun Sokha’s wife, who denied them entry and eventually called her husband, who appeared with the other bodyguards and allegedly handcuffed the two men, beat them, then detained two more men when they tried to help.
Sieng Thairath declined to comment on the charges Wednesday.
Heng Bunheang, chief of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, said Wednesday he supported the charges. “We cannot intervene for those people who abuse the law,” he said.
Rights workers say the case will be a test of the integrity of the court in a judicial culture often seen as biased toward the powerful.
Kong Chhit, a rights worker for Licadho, called the Koh Koh court “principled.” “This decision paves the way for poor people and an end to impunity in Cambodia,” he said.