The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments on whether to uphold or dismiss the sentence of former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) member Kong Mas who was imprisoned for one year and six months for insulting Hun Sen in a Facebook post.
Court documents say the then 32-year-old Mas created five Facebook accounts and used them to post offensive messages about government leaders from April to October 2018. He was charged with incitement and insults and found guilty in 2019 under Articles 495 and 502 of the Criminal Code.
The trial judge sentenced Mas and the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict. The Supreme Court will issue a decision on July 15.
Trial Judge Nhoung Thol read the facts before Supreme Court Judge You Yuthara, prosecutor Pen Sarath and Mas’ lawyer Sam Sokong. Judge Thol said Mas had created five Facebook accounts and used them to criticise the government.
The judge read the contents of Mas’ Facebook posts, which included: “Citizens, please rise up and topple the government. We all bring down this regime” and “It is Hun Sen who deprived citizens of a democracy. It is the regime of Hun Sen that kills forests.”
The court also heard that after he was detained, the police found 100,000 leaflets in the province which also aimed to incite chaos.
Mas was sentenced on October 18, last year, and imprisoned for one year and six months for incitement to commit a crime. Mas filed an appeal, but on March 23, the Court of Appeal upheld the Phnom Penh Court of First Instant’s ruling.
Prosecutor Chum Somban argued before the court that Mas confessed about his written text on social media.
“So, the decision of the Court of Appeal to uphold the judgment of the Phnom Penh Court of First Instant is right under the law. I would keep the judgment of the Appeal Court,” he argued.
Mas’ lawyer Sam Sokong argued that his client appealed to the Supreme Court because he is dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal, which is unfair.
“He just wrote to criticise but not insult as the court mentioned. In a democratic country, a citizen has the right to expression. He asked people not to turn out for the election if there is no CNRP,” he said. He asked that the verdict against his client be overturned.
Mas’ wife Kol Sath said outside the court that since her husband was detained, she has faced many hardships, including raising her 10-year-old daughter.
She said the case is very unfair to her husband because he saw something not good in society and should have the right to express his thoughts as a citizen.
She said her husband has another case from 2019 in Svay Rieng province for criticising the Romeas Haek district governor who subsequently filed a complaint.
The Svay Rieng court imprisoned Mas for 15 days for “defamation and incitement of citizens to hate public officials” and made him pay a fine of 5,000,000 riel ($1,219).