Cambodian property tycoon jailed after footage of his attack on TV actress sparks public outrage

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - A Cambodian court on Monday (Feb 15) jailed a property tycoon for a vicious assault on an actress at a Phnom Penh restaurant, in an attack that horrified the public after it was caught on closed-circuit television.

Footage of the July assault on Ek Socheata, better known by her stage name SaSa, sparked outrage in a country where the rich are often seen to be beyond the reach of the law.

Wealthy businessman Sok Bun fled to Singapore after the attack, but returned to Cambodia after calls from strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen to give himself up.

He was arrested on arrival at the airport and charged with violent conduct.

Sok Bun admitted guilt and begged the public to forgive him.

On Monday, a Phnom Penh court sentenced the tycoon to three years in prison. He will serve 10 months in jail while the rest of the sentence is suspended, Judge Sor Lina ruled.

The property magnate, who was not present in court due to sickness, was also fined about US$1,500 (S$2,100).

Violence against women is common in Cambodia but the public exposure of the attack struck a nerve in the country.

The attack on SaSa by the businessman and his armed bodyguard took place in the early hours of July 2 in a Japanese restaurant in Phnom Penh.

She obtained CCTV footage of the incident and posted it on Facebook four days later alongside images of her injuries.

The footage shows two men beating a woman, dragging her from a leather sofa and repeatedly kicking her in the head as she desperately tries to get up from the floor.

Sok Bun's bodyguard is seen brandishing a handgun throughout the attack.