Sam Rainsy Party youth wing leader Suong Sophoan filed a criminal complaint yesterday accusing local police, riot police and security guards acting for Boeung Kak lake developer Shukaku of attempted murder, after he was beaten unconscious last Friday. Accompanied by SRP parliamentarian Mu Sochua and wearing a cowboy hat and low-slung jeans, Suong Sophoan filed the complaint at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday afternoon. Under his hat, parts of his hair were shorn away and bandages covered wounds received during the attack – which was filmed at Phnom Penh’s lakeside and later posted online. “I want the court to find justice for me and justice for Boeung Kak residents against this gang of armed forces,” Suong Sophoan said. “The authorities took a big stone to hit my head in order to kill me, but I used my hand to protect myself.”
The complaint was filed with a list of more than 80 witnesses and the video footage of the alleged attempted murder. “We have more than enough evidence that the violence was not meant to just shove him off the scene,” said Mu Sochua. “It was meant to totally silence him. It was meant to kill him.” The number of police outside the court more than tripled shortly after Soung Sophoan arrived to file his complaint. But the youth leader said he was no stranger to the attention of police. Nor was he a stranger to their brutality. “You all know that I was abused and threatened with arrest many times,” he said. “But I keep my ambition to protect the [Boeung Kak] villagers until I die.” “You would think this would create an atmosphere of fear,” said Mu Sochua, speaking outside the courthouse. “But to the contrary the message is counterproductive.”
“This is a moral message – Soung Sophorn is full of energy, passion and courage. Don’t forget the power of social media to put the face of injustice in the public.” Mu Sochua said a video of Soung Sophorn’s beating had received more than 10,000 views since being posted online last weekend. “This is how we bring about change,” she said yesterday. “It is time for the state to face reality.” In his complaint, Soung Sophoan requested US$10,000 in compensation and sentencing of all the perpetrators. Hy Pro, deputy police commissioner of Phnom Penh, said that it was Soung Sorphoan’s right to file a complaint. “I was not at the scene on that day, so I have no knowledge, but let the court do their work on this case,” he said. Shukaku representatives were unavailable for comment last night.