PHNOM PENH —
A member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit, who allegedly beat opposition party lawmakers in 2015, has been promoted to the rank of general.
The other two bodyguards were promoted to colonel, according to a royal degree dated November 18, which was recently shared with journalists.
Cambodian National Rescue Party lawmakers Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Saphea were savagely beaten near the National Assembly in October 2015 by a group of protesters known to be CPP’s supporters.
After Hun Sen called on the attackers to come forward, in November of the same year, three of his bodyguards, Chhay Sarith, Mao Hoeun, and Soth Vanny, claimed responsibility.
They were sentenced to serve 12 months of a 4-year sentence.
After being imprisoned for one year, the three bodyguards were released on November 4.
In the royal degree, Sarith was promoted from a colonel to a one-star general.
Hoeun and Vanny were also promoted from lieutenant colonels to colonels.
Chhum Socheat, a Defense Ministry spokesman, could not be reached for comment.
Socheat, however, told the Phnom Penh Post on Wednesday that the promotion of Sarith was legitimate.
“Their punishment has already been served through the court, they can go back to work and, for promotions, and it’s implemented according to individual [circumstances],” Socheat was quoted as saying.
Saphea, one of the victims of the attack, said attacking a lawmaker is a serious crime and the perpetrators should be fired.
“The perpetrators who committed a serious crime [by] beating lawmakers who represent millions of people won promotion… while they are serving a suspended sentence, which is not even over yet,” he said.
“That encourages other perpetrators and promotes violence,” he added.
Sok Sam Oeun, a leading human rights lawyer, said there is no law banning the promotion of an official who had served time in prison.
However, he added that the promotion of the three bodyguards was “too quick”.
“We cannot promote only when there is a law. If we quickly look at [the promotion], talking about morality, it can lead the public to suspect that [the attack] was following an order. In short, it [the promotion] was too quick,” he said.