The Battambang Provincial Court has summoned an opposition party council member to appear for questioning 10 days from now in connection with the secret and illegal recording of a Cambodian People’s Party official who was caught on tape offering hundreds of dollars in exchange for support in January’s Senate elections.
On January 20, before the election, CPP official Cheam Pe A summoned Mok Ra, a council member in Battambang town’s Tuol Ta Ek commune, to a meeting in a local hotel.
He then offered Mok Ra US$700 for his support in the upcoming elections, according to a taped version of the conversation that the SRP released.
Commune council members elect members of the Senate.
Citing the recording, the SRP filed a complaint with the Battambang Provincial Election Commission against Cheam Pe A, who shot back with a lawsuit against Mok Ra.
The Battambang PEC fined Cheam Pe A US$1,230, a punishment that SRP officials ridiculed as a slap on the wrist.
A provincial council member from the SRP argued at the time that CPP member Run Thel, who can also allegedly be heard speaking in the taped conversation, should face penalties too.
Mok Ra, who is supposed to be questioned by Judge Kem Ravy on June 28, fears he won’t get the same light treatment as Cheam Pe A.
Article 301 of the penal code forbids taping another person without their consent. If convicted, Mok Ra could go to jail for a year.
“And I am afraid of the court not being independent,” he said. Still, he plans to show up in court to defend himself.
“If we do not go, it means that we are wrong.”
Battambang Provincial Court Judge Kim Ravy declined to comment yesterday.
In the lead-up to the Senate election, the SRP repeatedly made allegations that CPP members were vote-buying from opposition councilors or trying to persuade them to change parties.
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The CPP dominated the election, winning an overwhelming majority of the 57 contested seats.