18 July 2015
- From the section Asia
A Cambodian property tycoon accused of assaulting a well-known actress has appeared in court after she posted a video of the attack online.
CCTV footage emerged earlier this month of an assault on the actress Ek Socheata, better known as SaSa, at a restaurant in the capital Phnom Penh.
Sok Bun, 37, returned to Cambodia from Singapore, where he had fled.
Violence against women is commonplace in Cambodia but public exposure of this attack has sparked outrage.
After his arrest at Phnom Penh’s airport, Sok Bun faces charges of violence and intentionally causing injury.
On Thursday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called for Sok Bun’s arrest.
“Don’t think that because you have money you can escape,” Hun Sen said. “What you have done is intolerable.”
The footage shows SaSa being dragged off a chair and on to the floor at a Japanese restaurant.
She is then kicked in the head, and when she tries to get up, she is punched and stamped on over the course of a minute.
At one point, a bodyguard draws a gun and points it at her head as the attack continues. It ends when a restaurant worker pulls the attacker away.
SaSa then obtained the video from the restaurant and posted it on her Facebook page. She has since given several interviews on national television and was still visibly badly bruised.
Earlier in the week, Sok Bun pleaded for forgiveness but a social media campaign called for his arrest.
“He pulled my hair and smashed my head against the floor,” she told the Associated Press (AP) news agency. “I was in shock, I couldn’t believe what was happening.”
SaSa says she was protecting a friend from the advances of Mr Bun, who was at one point the head of Cambodia’s estate agents’ association.
Yin Sophy, Sok Bun’s lawyer, was quoted in the Phnom Penh Post as saying his client had been keen to return to Cambodia to see the case resolved.
“My client has a real willingness to deal and take responsibility about this case,” he said. “So he has come to solve these allegations with court directly.”
If found guilty, Sok Bun could face up to five years in prison.
The newspaper reports that the bodyguard has been charged with attempted murder and remains at large. SaSa says he pulled the trigger of his gun only for it to fail to discharge.