Hun Sen’s Bodyguards Confess to Beating of Lawmakers

Two of three bodyguards to Prime Minister Hun Sen on trial for the beating of two opposition lawmakers in front of the National Assembly last year confessed to the attack on the last day of their trial on Tuesday but refused to say who had sent them there.

Chay Sarith, 33, Mao Hoeun, 34, and Suth Vanny, 45, all members of the prime minister’s personal bodyguard detail, have been charged with intentional violence and intentional property damage, both with aggravating circumstances, for their role in the attack of CNRP lawmakers Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Saphea in October.

Prime Minister Bodyguard Unit members Chay Sarith, left, and Mao Hoeun arrive at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/ The Cambodia Daily)
Prime Minister Bodyguard Unit members Chay Sarith, left, and Mao Hoeun arrive at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/ The Cambodia Daily)

On the first day of the three men’s trial last month, Mr. Sarith admitted to having taken part in the attack but denied damaging any property.

As the trial resumed on Tuesday, Mr. Hoeun mirrored his colleague’s testimony almost exactly.

“I don’t accept the charge of property damage,” he said. “But the beating, I accept.”

Like Mr. Sarith, he said he had attacked the lawmakers as they were driving out of the National Assembly in separate vehicles because they were hurling insults at a crowd assembled for an anti-CNRP rally, including the word “Yuon,” a term for Vietnamese people often considered derogatory.

“[Mr. Sophea] drove the car slowly and opened the window and shouted at me, ‘Eh, Yuon puppet! You guys come to demonstrate. Are there Yuon in the National Assembly?’” he said. “I saw others beat him and I also got angry when he scolded and insulted me in public. I got so angry I kicked him one time. Then I heard someone say his leader [Mr. Chamroeun] was behind him. I went over to kick him once, then I added one more kick.”

Like his colleague, Mr. Hoeun said he had gone to the protest to “collect information” as a member of the bodyguard unit’s “intelligence group” but refused to say who gave the order or to name his immediate commanding officers.

“Who is the chief of this intelligence group?” asked Choung Chou Ngy, the lawmakers’ lawyer.

“I cannot talk about this,” Mr. Hoeun said, just before his lawyer, Neang Panha, interrupted the line of questioning.

As Mr. Chou Ngy tried to ask the bodyguard who had sent him to the rally, Judge Heng Sokna stepped in, telling him to keep his questions short and directed at the “facts.”

Mr. Vanna, the third bodyguard, gave nearly identical testimony.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Chou Ngy said the three were clearly guilty of the attacks and urged the court to award each of the lawmakers 100 million riel (about $25,000) in damages.

“The three accused used heavy violence, and it was not appropriate behavior from people who have education and training,” he said.

Mr. Panha said the three were sorry for what they had done and asked the court for leniency.

“It happened because they were angry that the lawmakers scolded them,” he said. “If the lawmakers had not scolded them, they would not have attacked them. There is a connection: If there is no cause, there will be no effect.”

Judge Sokna said he would announce a verdict on May 27.

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