Four Boeung Kak lake activists, including recently jailed community leader Tep Vanny, will face trial next month for a five-year-old case of insulting and obstructing public officials during a 2011 protest at City Hall.
The four activists – Kong Chantha, Bo Chhorvy, Heng Mom and Vanny – were charged by Phnom Penh Municipal Court in November 2011 under articles 502 and 504 of the Criminal Code, but later released on bail following a protest demanding a resolution to their land dispute.
Sam Sokunthea, the activists’ lawyer, confirmed that her clients will front court on September 19, but refused to comment further as she did not want it to influence an appeal of Vanny’s pre-trial detention in a separate case.
Vanny is facing an investigation into her alleged role in a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in 2013 to demand the release of fellow activist Yorm Bopha.
Chantha said that apart from being summonsed by the court once, the activists had never been notified of the case’s progress. “But no one called me to a hearing [before this]. I don’t understand if they want to arrest us or want to put pressure on Tep Vanny,” she said.
Insulting a public official can be punishable by one to six days in prison, whereas obstructing an official is punishable by six months to a year in prison.
Licadho’s technical coordinator Am Sam Ath said digging up an all-but-forgotten case only illustrated the government’s targeting of the activists, who have been at the forefront of the civil society-backed Black Monday campaign, which seeks the release of jailed human rights officials.