Six opposition officials yesterday appeared at the Takeo Provincial Court for questioning about a complaint accusing them of defamation, insults and “incitement” over a confrontation that took place in Koh Andet district during the campaign for the June 4 commune elections.
Keo Eath, the CNRP’s deputy chief for Prey Khla commune, where the confrontation took place, and fellow opposition commune councillors Morm Saroeun, Hem Korn, Chun Choeun, Sun Savoeurn and Sok Sang, were summonsed over a dispute that took place on May 20, said Sang.
Eath said that the prosecutor asked them to explain what happened on May 20 and that the group denied accusations made against them that they had started a verbal fight with officials from the Cambodian People’s Party and had blocked them from campaigning.
“They scolded us, scolded our mothers, and I couldn’t [take] it, that is why I replied back and said ‘stupid’,” Eath said, adding that the group had asked the prosecutor to consider closing the case without charges.
The complaint was filed by CPP Commune Chief Pich Chim, and the court was still considering whether to proceed with any charges, according to Phann Sopheak, a spokesman for court Prosecutor Tep Munin.
“We just questioned them,” Sopheak said, adding that Munin was now seeking evidence about the campaign dispute from both sides. “We haven’t charged them yet. If they have evidence, the prosecutor will summons them [again]. Now, they have not given evidence.”
He said the court would decide whether to pursue the case after the officials are given adequate time to submit evidence. However, Sang, one of the six, said that finding such exculpatory evidence could be hard.
“We don’t have evidence, because we didn’t know they were going to file a complaint against us,” Sang said, explaining that the six officials were the only witnesses to the May 20 dispute of whom they were aware.
Pich Chim, the CPP commune chief who filed the complaint, said that his side had all the evidence it needed to prove its claims about what happened on May 20 and would continue to pursue the case in court.
“We have a video,” Chim said, accusing the six officials of being disingenuous in their account of what happened in the dispute.
“I am not going to withdraw the complaint. If they know we are both working for the same common interests, why would they block us?”