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3 Arrested in Beatings of Cambodian Opposition Lawmakers

In a photo supplied by Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) showing Nhay Chamroeun, law maker for CNRP was injured by the violence from the protesters in front of National Assembly on October 26, 2015.

Three men have turned themselves into Cambodian police, claiming they were involved in the beatings of two opposition lawmakers last week.

The Ministry of Interior announced late Tuesday Chay Sarith, Mao Hoeurn, and Suth Vanny had turned themselves in earlier in the day. But little more information was immediately available.

The ministry said the three confessed to attacking two lawmakers from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sakphea, who were dragged out of their vehicles and attacked following anti-opposition protests organized and endorsed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

Video clips posted on social media show no security personnel or police intervened during the attacks, which have been widely condemned by rights groups and the international community.

Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, confirmed to VOA Khmer Tuesday the government has identified persons of interest and he appealed for cooperation from the public, especially online users.

“We have not made any formal charges, but we obtained documents, evidence and images from the National Assembly’s secretariat. Authorities are appealing for cooperation from the Facebook account holders because the images on Facebook cannot be used officially without confirmation from the page owner. Nonetheless, we will have results soon," he said.

The attacks come amid heightened tensions between the CPP and the CNRP. CPP lawmakers voted to remove Kem Sokha, a senior Rescue Party lawmaker, from his position as vice president of the National Assembly on Friday.

Local human rights groups issued a statement following last week’s attacks, claiming witnesses identified security guards and police among the anti-opposition “protesters.” Many of them wore red scarves to identify themselves to one another, rights workers said.

Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponhearith told VOA Khmer Tuesday the two lawmakers are still in pain, following surgeries and treatment by doctors in Thailand.

“They are getting better after surgeries, but they are having migraines and body pain due to serious injuries,” he said. “I don't know how serious, but Thai doctors haven't allowed them to leave the hospital.”

Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy, who visited the two men in Bangkok, told reporters he would work to maintain dialogue with the CPP, despite the attacks and the prolonged detention of at least 10 opposition supporters.

He called Kem Sokha’s removal from his Assembly post “unlawful” and said he would not name a replacement. And he vowed to “negotiate peacefully” with the CPP to win the release of the opposition supporters.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.