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Bail weighed for ‘inciters’

Prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth talks to reporters following a bail hearing for four people accused of distributing leaflets on behalf of dissident group Khmer People Power Movement
Prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth talks to reporters following a bail hearing for four people accused of distributing leaflets on behalf of dissident group Khmer People Power Movement. VIREAK MAI

Bail weighed for ‘inciters’

Phnom Penh Municipal Court will continue considering a bail request today from four charged over the weekend for allegedly distributing leaflets calling for the armed forces to turn on the government.

A bail hearing was held yesterday, only two days after incitement charges were handed down to the group. Prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth said the court was continuing to consider the request.

“The judge will consider whether or not to give bail tomorrow, because today he only received applications from the family, but still needs requests from the four people,” he said.

During the hearing, family members promised to instruct them not to distribute similar materials in the future and maintained their relatives “were cheated”, he continued.

On Saturday, several days after their arrest, police announced they had arrested and charged the four for allegedly producing and distributing inflammatory leaflets drawn up by dissident group Khmer People Power Movement.

According to a photo posted on the National Police website, the leaflets – which KPPM president Sourn Serey Ratha urged to be attached to yellow roses and handed to the military – bore a message calling both for non-violence and for soldiers to “turn the gun barrels toward the dictator”.

Rights groups have called for the charges to be dropped, saying the two accused of transporting the materials had merely been picking up flowers to distribute to the military, while there was insufficient evidence that the two accused of printing the cards had any intention of incitement.

“The questioning at the court revealed beyond any doubt that Chanpanha and Dalis only intended to distribute flowers to military personnel – a common campaign activity used throughout the world to promote peace. They never saw or came into any contact with either Lypaeung’s shop, Borin, or the allegedly inciting stickers,” reads a statement from rights groups Licadho and Clec.

Furthermore, “the mere printing of offensive stickers does not alone establish the required intent for criminal liability”.

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