Six men detained during clashes between protesters and security forces at the Kbal Thnal overpass on Sunday evening have been charged with intentional violence and damage to public property.
The fighting, said to have erupted after a small group of people began throwing rocks at military police and forcibly dismantling barricades, left one man dead and dozens injured after police responded with brute force, allegedly including live fire.
Suos Sam Ath, deputy president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, could not be reached for comment yesterday but confirmed the charges were made late on Monday night.
The six men – Nguyen Thydoc, Ek Channoeun, Tang Chunse, Song Nisay, Long Samoeun and Van Nin – face jail terms of between two and five years in prison if found guilty, along with a fine of up to 10 million riel ($2,500), senior Adhoc investigator Ath Sam Ath said yesterday.
According to Ath Sam Ath, lawyers provided by Licadho and the Community Legal Education Center are preparing documents to submit to the court so the men can be granted bail.
Those arrested are high school students, university students and construction workers, all of whom were simply trying to get home when they encountered the roadblock, he said.
He added that the men were trying to escape the scene’s violence when they were pursued and arrested by police because of their youth.
“The incident that occurred [was the fault] of the authorities due to roadblocks. Therefore, civil society organisations have asked for the release of the six detained and insist that an independent commission to punish the perpetrators [is established],” Ath Sam Ath said.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party has asked the government to release all party activists who were arrested during the campaign and post-election period on what it says are politically motivated charges, deputy leader Kem Sokha said on Monday.
“I have requested specifically for [Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Prime Minister Hun Sen] to intervene to release all CNRP activists [arrested because of their] politics.… They agreed with me and asked me to file a list for them to consider,” he told Radio Free Asia.
Sokha added that the party had also asked NGOs to investigate the actions of the six detained at Kbal Thnal. If they were found to have not acted illegally, their names would be added to the list the party will send to the government.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday he could not yet provide a clear figure for the number of CNRP activists believed to have been arrested on politically motivated charges.
The Ministry of Interior and national police could not be reached for comment.