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Activist fears arrest after court bungle

AN opposition Sam Rainsy Party activist from Prey Veng province says he fears arrest after accidentally missing a court appearance last week in connection with charges of defamation and disinformation.

Un Sam Oeun said yesterday that a summons ordering him to appear at the provincial court on November 4 did not reach him until the following day.

“If police provided me with the citation as scheduled, I would have gone, but police gave it to me on November 5,” he said.

The defamation and disinformation charges were filed against Un Sam Oeun by Hem Hon, the chief of Phdao Korng commune, in Ba Phnom district, after he made comments to the media last year claiming that a local road project was set to affect around 10 families’ homes.

“He sued us for defamation and spreading disinformation. He accused me of being the protest leader,” Un Sam Oeun said, adding that he now feared arrest and did not have a lawyer to defend him against the charges.

He said the case was motivated by politics, and that many opposition activists had been imprisoned in similar circumstances.

Hem Hon said the SRP activist had led people to protest against the construction of the road and said his comments to the media had affected the authorities’ reputation.

“He made exaggerations about the authorities. The road construction did not affect anyone’s land; we did it according to the plan,” Hem Hon said.

Chea Poch, an SRP lawmaker representing Prey Veng, said the court should conduct a clear investigation before summoning any suspects, adding that Un Sam Oeun was innocent of wrongdoing.

“I intervened with the court to end the accusation. I would like the court to make a clear investigation because he is an activist whether he helps people or not,” he said.

When contacted yesterday, Prey Veng provincial court deputy prosecutor Say Nora declined to comment on the case.

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