Cambodian police arrest tycoon who assaulted TV star

Cambodian police Saturday arrested a wanted property tycoon on his return to the kingdom after a video of his vicious assault on a popular TV star triggered widespread anger and a call from the premier to give himself up.

Wealthy businessman Sok Bun, who had fled to Singapore in an apparent attempt to evade authorities, was arrested on his arrival at Phnom Penh airport before being escorted directly to court where he faces charges, police said.

CCTV footage of the assault on Ek Socheata, better known by her stage name SaSa, in a Phnom Penh restaurant fuelled public outrage in a country where the wealthy are often seen to be beyond the reach of a corrupt judicial system.

Sok Bun, 37, was arrested Saturday morning on his return from Singapore, national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith told AFP.

"(We) sent him to the court. He faces charges of violence and intentionally causing injury," Chantharith said, adding the court would decide whether to detain the property magnate.

Violence against women is commonplace in Cambodia but the public exposure of the attack has triggered a nerve in the country, dominating local headlines as the graphic video was widely shared on social media.

On Thursday Prime Minister Hun Sen joined calls for Sok Bun to face justice, asking the tycoon to hand himself in to police.

The attack on SaSa by Sok Bun and his armed bodyguard took place in the early hours of July 2 in a Japanese restaurant in the capital.

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

The grainy footage shows two men beating a woman in a black dress, 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.

In an interview with AFP on Thursday SaSa said the argument began when Sok Bun made drunken and unwanted advances towards a Japanese friend.

"He used his boots to step on my body and head, he kicked me and he used his boots to stomp on my face and nose," the 28-year-old said.

"I am aware of domestic violence (in Cambodia), but this violence was so cruel. His beating was not to scare me, he was trying to kill me." On Saturday SaSa told AFP she was happy Sok Bun would now face the law.

"Let the judges and the court do their work, all I want is justice," she said.

In a number of statements released through his lawyer Sok Bun has admitted carrying out the attack and pleaded for mercy from the public.

He also said he had offered SaSa US$100,000 (S$136,647)compensation and had resigned from a number of trade bodies.

SaSa has said that the sum was later raised to $200,000 but she has not decided whether to accept it.