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Political activist and CNRP supporter Ouk Pich Samnang
Political activist and CNRP supporter Ouk Pich Samnang arrives at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday where he was to face questioning over his involvement in a violent protest last year. Hong Menea

CNRP activist questioned

An opposition activist questioned yesterday over allegations that he participated in an “insurrection” last year has claimed his innocence, saying he “did nothing” but was abused by security guards anyway.

San Kim Heng, one of 11 activists and lawmakers of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was questioned throughout yesterday over his alleged role in a protest near the capital’s Freedom Park that turned violent on July 15.

Judge Lim Makaron grilled Kim Heng at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, inquiring about his motives and actions on that day, including why he went to a location closed by the government and what he did while participating in the demonstration.

“I just joined, I did nothing,” Kim Heng said. “As one of the people, I just asked to have Freedom Park opened.”

Additionally, he told the court that he was beaten two or three times by security personnel at the scene while he was helping an old lady who was pulled from her motorbike.

“I saw security guards tearing [protest signs], and when people told them to stop, they beat the people,” he continued.

Makaron asked whether Kim Heng had fought back against the security guards, and the activist maintained that he only used his hands to push back the guards and had no weapons on him at the time.

Deputy prosecutor Keo Socheat then asked him if he had witnessed any CNRP lawmakers giving speeches on the day of the demonstration.

Kim Heng denied seeing any speeches, claiming that he had heard rallying cries from the distance and that any speeches were over by the time he had arrived at the protest.

Accompanied by his lawyer, Choung Choungy, CNRP Information Department head Meach Sovannara, who also appeared in court but was not questioned yesterday, told reporters after the session that he was dissatisfied with the drawn-out nature of the proceedings.

“[We], the accused, are upset. Such a trial is a waste of time,” he said. “My passport was confiscated, so going abroad is impossible. We are sad that we have not gotten freedom yet.”

Still, Sovannara said he would remain patient. He called on leaders of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, as well as CNRP members, to fully engage in the “culture of dialogue” between the two parties and resolve the case speedily.

Choungy echoed his client’s sentiment.

“It affects the rights of my clients, and my aim as a lawyer is to finish this case, because when it is concluded, all my client’s rights are guaranteed,” he said.

The trial of the 11 CNRP members has been postponed until June 3.

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