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Central African Republic image denounced

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Long Dimanche, a teacher in Kampong Cham, signs an apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen for posting a fake image of the beheaded peacekeepers yesterday on his Facebook page. FACEBOOK

Central African Republic image denounced

A Kampong Cham teacher who was publicly condemned by the Prime Minister for sharing a fake image of “beheaded” peacekeepers has been called in for questioning.

The man, a teacher called Long Dimanche, allegedly shared a photoshopped image of a severed head after news broke that four Cambodian peacekeepers were killed by a Christian terrorist group in Central African Republic earlier this week.

In a social media fracas immediately following the announcement of the deadly attack, a Facebook post that appeared to be from the South Korean ambassador, who also happens to be named Long Dimanche, implied that one of the peacekeepers had been beheaded – a report that was later proved false.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen denounced the teacher Dimanche, saying the doctored image “destroys the reputation of the army”.

“If you don’t remove the picture, it means you declare the war with the whole army. Please delete it immediately,” he said.

Provincial Deputy Police Chief Heng Vuthy said Dimanche had been summoned to the police station at 6pm on Wednesday night. “We did not arrest him, we just called him for some questions only,” Vuthy said.

“He already knew that he made a mistake and he made a promise not to do it again.”

The teacher Dimanche could not be reached for comment yesterday, but in a letter posted to his Facebook page at 11pm on Wednesday, he begged forgiveness from the premier.

“I am really sorry for my unintentional mistake because I do not understand much about the picture I have shared,” the letter read. “I did not mean to make a bad reputation for our military or to provoke any irregularity in our society.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said it was too early to tell if the investigation would continue into the dissemination of false information, but said Dimanche had set “a good example” by admitting his error and apologising.

The bodies of the deceased peacekeepers, Im Sam, Mao Eng, Seang Norin, and Mom Tola, are expected to be repatriated in two weeks.

Phal Samorn, deputy director general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC), said it wasn’t yet confirmed how much compensation their families would receive from the UN.

Samorn added a ceremony would be held at NPMEC tomorrow morning in memory of the peacekeepers.

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