Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday ordered the arrests of the remaining suspects who beat professor Suy Sareth in a mob attack after an alleged hit-and-run accident in Phnom Penh last week.
Speaking to thousands of garment workers in Phnom Penh, the premier said that the violence against Mr Sareth on March 11 was unacceptable.
“The act of violence that has just recently happened in Phnom Penh, related to a traffic accident, absolutely should not be welcomed and must be strongly condemned. And the suspects must be arrested and brought to justice,” said Mr Hun Sen.
“We really need people to participate in respecting the Traffic Law to prevent traffic accidents from happening. But we should not gather people to beat and kill anyone.”
Mr Hun Sen said the habit of beating people over road accidents was amoral and should not happen in Cambodia.
He advised to let the police, court and related ministries take action against people who violate the Traffic Law or cause traffic accidents and deaths.
On March 11, Mr Sareth, a 52-year-old professor at the University of Cambodia, was beaten by a mob and seriously injured after a traffic accident in the capital. The suspects beat him, destroyed his SUV and looted his property before fleeing.
In a video posted on Facebook on Monday, Mr Sareth recounted his version of events on the day he was attacked. He said the suspects beat him and caused serious injuries to his head and jaw, breaking 10 teeth.
The professor also denied hitting any motorists and then fleeing to avoid responsibility.
He said he was driving his SUV from the Tuol Sangke pagoda toward Russey Keo district in Phnom Penh to pick up his wife from a wedding ceremony.
But while he was driving on National Road 5, a taxi driving ahead of him slightly hit another car in front of it. He stopped his SUV but two drunken men driving a motorbike behind him hit his SUV and fell.
A group of youths following him accused Mr Sareth of hitting the motorists and incited others to beat him. He said he was hit and bloodied by the motorists’ helmets and decided to flee to evade further injury.
After failing to find police or reach home, he accidentally hit a motorist in Tuol Kork district and was caught by the youths pursuing him. They beat him again, destroyed his vehicle and knocked him unconscious.
Colonel Bun Satya, chief of the criminal investigation department in Phnom Penh, said that so far, only three suspects have been arrested and charged by the court for their involvement in Mr Samreth’s beating.
“Until now, we have arrested three of 10 suspects. They were all charged by the court prosecutor with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances and damaging another person’s property with aggravating circumstances,” he said. “The investigating judge has already sent the three suspects to prison pending their trial.”
Col Satya added that police are seeking to arrest the other suspects.
Mr Samreth’s defence lawyer Chhy Sambath has also filed a criminal lawsuit against the suspects to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Mr Sambath demanded about $300,000 in compensation from the suspects.