A CNRP deputy commune chief in Poipet has received a summons to appear at the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court on February 16 for questioning over an unruly 2015 protest over import taxes and fees.
In May 2015, cross-border porters in Poipet staged the protest, which soon turned violent, with protesters throwing bricks at the local customs office and burning car tyres, and military police beating protesters and firing warning shots.
The local governor ultimately blamed opposition official Chao Veasna and local union leader Din Puthy – recently at the centre of a case in which a police official appeared to take a dive in front of his car – for inciting the riot.
After receiving his summons, Veasna said the court was simply attempting to discredit him, and maintained he attended the protest to facilitate dialogue between protesters and the tax office.
“There is no evidence that I was inciting . . . The court is not trying hard to make a decision on my case and has taken this time to disturb my work,” Veasna said. He last appeared at court in November.
Provincial Adhoc coordinator Soum Chankear said that given the delay in dealing with the case, provincial court judge Ek Polifil “seems to be waiting for something”.
“It could affect [Veasna’s] candidacy for commune chief if they make a decision during the elections,” he added, referring to the June poll.
But court spokesman Sok Keobandith countered that the judge was taking time to thoroughly investigate the case. “It is complicated and needs more evidence and investigation.”