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Vote for CPP or ‘son stays in jail’

THE family of a Kampot provincial Cambodia National Rescue Party activist charged with threatening to murder was approached by ruling party officials with an ultimatum – vote for the Cambodian People’s Party or your son stays in jail – family and an NGO said.

Yun Phally, a Kampot provincial monitor for the rights group Licadho, said Ouk Soth, 40, the mother-in-law of CNRP activist Hong Viravuth, reported that five members of her family had been asked to defect to the CPP and vow not to vote in exchange for her son’s release.

“She confirmed with us that if her son would have been released before the election, then all her family members wouldn’t go to vote, but she did not agree [to the deal], because the CPP activist vowed to release him only after the election,” he said.

Viravuth, 41, was charged with threatening to kill leaders of the CPP, but has since maintained that he had lent his phone to a friend during the period in which he had allegedly made the threats. According to Phally, Soth said the activists had been sent by Chum Bunthan, who is closely connected with CPP official Pen Simorn, the director of the Department of Tax and Customs.

Both Bunthan and Soth could not be reached for comment.

However, Or Chanthan, an adopted brother of Viravuth, confirmed Soth’s story.

“A CPP activist named Virak, who was formerly with the SRP, he went down to my parent’s house and took the number of their ID cards, and asked them to defect to the CPP and not to go to vote, and said that after the election, my brother would be released, but we didn’t believe him,” Chanthan said.

Kampot Governor Khoy Khunhour cautioned the family to investigate the matter before leaping to legal action.

“I am finding out about this allegation now because it affects the reputation of the ruling party, and I strictly ordered CPP activists not to do such a stupid thing like that,” he said.

Chea Poch, a CNRP activist in Kampot, said he was planning to file a complaint to the commune election committee.

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