PHNOM PENH —
Unionist and opposition official Din Puthy was released on bail on Saturday three weeks after he was arrested for allegedly ramming his car into an immigration police officer.
Puthy was charged with intentional violence and sent to pre-trial detention late last month after being accused of deliberately hitting Chhean Pisith near a border checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town.
The release of a video of the incident on social media prompted uproar and mockery as it seemed to show Puthy’s car stationary when the officer fell to the ground.
Pisith came under renewed fire after footage was leaked showing the officer leaving a guest house in Thailand – where he had gone for “treatment” - with a young woman on his arm, apparently unhurt.
Immediately after the incident Pisith was shown on television in Cambodia wearing a neck brace.
Kim Socheat, Puthy’s lawyer, said his client would plead not guilty to the charge, adding that he believed his client would be acquitted.
Soun Bovor, the provincial governor, said Pisith had been removed from his position “to calm things down” and suggested the two parties should negotiate a civil settlement to the case.
Sum Chan Kea, a local representative of rights group Adhoc, said the public’s reaction would likely save Puthy from an unjust conviction.
“If there is neither complaints nor criticism from the public, nationally and internationally, calling out the judiciary, this decision would not have been reached,” he said.