Two Daun Penh district security guards were arrested on Tuesday evening for beating and inciting others to beat university professor Suy Samreth in a mob attack that followed two hit-and-run accidents in Phnom Penh on Sunday.
Kong Chantha, a municipal traffic police officer, identified the two suspects as Pheap Kimhak and Sok Ra, both Daun Penh district security guards.
However, according to a statement issued on Tuesday by Daun Penh District Hall, the suspects are former Daun Penh district security guards.
Mr Chantha added they were arrested on Tuesday evening based on their photographs, which had been taken from surveillance cameras near the site of the violence.
“According to the CCTV cameras, they were the ones inciting the crowd to hit the victim on the day of the violence,” he said. “They also beat the victim right there in his car.”
The mob beating took place on Sunday afternoon at about 3pm in Tuol Kork district’s Toek La’ak II commune.
Mr Chantha earlier this week said the professor was driving his car alone along National Road 5 in Russey Keo district on Sunday when he hit a motorbike and seriously injured its driver.
After the accident, Mr Samreth fled into the city but proceeded to crash into two more motorbikes near Depo Market in Tuol Kork district.
Angry motorists, who saw the accident, drove their motorbikes in pursuit of Mr Samreth and finally stopped him near Preah Kossamak Hospital in Toek La’ak III commune.
They proceeded to violently beat Mr Samreth, who now remains hospitalised in Vietnam.
Mr Chantha added yesterday that the two suspects were being temporarily detained at municipal traffic police headquarters for questioning.
Vong Bunsak, a 45-year-old motorbike-taxi driver and former supporter of the dissolved CNRP, said the two suspects were district security guards of the ilk that had in the past cruelly beaten protesters and CNRP supporters in Freedom Park.
“They were like gangsters,” he said. “They were cruel. They used pieces of wood and electric batons to beat and shock us during demonstrations.”
Colonel Tey Visal, deputy police chief of the municipal criminal investigation department, said that according to an inspection of surveillance cameras, there were five to six men participating in the beating of Mr Samreth and the destruction of his car on Sunday.
“We have already identified them from their photos,” he said. “Police are working hard to arrest the other suspects who were involved in order to punish them according to the law.”
On Monday, Mr Samreth’s defence lawyer Chhy Sambath filed a criminal lawsuit to Phnom Penh Muncipal Court against the individuals who beat his client, destroyed his car and stole his property.
“They wanted to kill Dr Suy Samreth. They beat him until he was seriously injured and unconscious,” he said. “After beating him, they destroyed his car and stole his property.”
Mr Sambath said that some suspects robbed his client of money and possessions, worth at least $3,000.
To find justice for his client, Mr Sambath called on police to take strict action to investigate and arrest the offenders so they would be unable to commit such cruel acts against others in the future.
He also demanded about $300,000 in compensation for Mr Samreth.