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Adhoc worker urged to apologise

Adhoc worker urged to apologise

THE judge presiding in the case of Pen Bonnar, the rights worker from Ratanakkiri province who is facing charges of incitement of terrorism, said the court is unlikely to pursue the case if the provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc issues an apology.

"Normally, the court will be considerate and understanding about lifting charges in these cases when the suspects are not stubborn," Judge Thor Saron told the Post on Sunday.

"But they must be humble and acknowledge their faults."

Pen Bonnar was charged with incitement by Ratanakkiri provincial police in connection with a protest over a land dispute in November 2007. He has since been removed from Ratanakkiri by Adhoc, but he vowed to fight the charges against him.

"I will not be humble because I am innocent, and I will try to pursue legal action against Judge Thor Saron to the Supreme Council of Magistracy ... for the insensitive charges against me," Pen Bonnar said. He called the charges against him "a threat to freedom of expression".

Although Pen Bonnar said he believes it was Thor Saron who initiated the charges against him, the judge said that they originated with provincial police.

"We have not yet made any decision about the charges against him," Thor Saron said.

"The court is now waiting for the suspect's lawyer to propose a resolution or make a request to the court, which we will make a decision about later."

On Sunday, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) issued a press release stating its concern that Pen Bonnar's case "represents evidence of a practice in Cambodia whereby the threat of legal charges is used to silence the voices of human rights activists and to curtail freedom of expression."

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