PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A Cambodian real estate magnate whose violent assault of a female TV star was captured on video was arrested Saturday, authorities said, in a case that has sparked national outrage.
Sok Bun was charged with intent to commit violence and will be held at a Phnom Penh prison pending trial, said Gen. Sok Khemrin, chief of the Interior Ministry’s penal division. The charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
The July 2 attack against actress and former TV host Ek Socheata, better known as Sasa, has prompted a national conversation about justice in the Southeast Asian country, where the wealthy often act with impunity and buy their way out of trouble.
Sok Bun, 37, left the country after the video began circulating on the Internet last week. Police had said they believed he fled to Singapore, and Interpol issued a Red Notice, which is the equivalent of an international arrest warrant.
He returned to Cambodia on Saturday, two days after Prime Minister Hun Sen called the attack “intolerable” and ordered him to return home and turn himself in.
Sok Bun was met by police Saturday morning at Phnom Penh International Airport and escorted to the Municipal Court, where he was questioned for several hours before being charged. He was then driven to a prison on the capital’s outskirts, said Sok Khemrin.
Sok Bun is seen in the video repeatedly punching and kicking Sasa in the head in an assault that lasts about a minute, as his bodyguard points a pistol at the actress’ head.
Sasa, 28, has said she was protecting a friend from the drunken advances of Sok Bun, when he flew into a violent rage. The attack occurred at a Japanese restaurant in Phnom Penh and was captured by the restaurant’s security cameras — and then obtained by Sasa, who posted the video online.
Sok Bun issued statements last week through his lawyer to say he “deeply regrets what happened.” He offered to pay Sasa $100,000 in compensation, which she declined, saying she wants to see him in court.