Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-CNRP official pleads for release

Ex-CNRP official pleads for release

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Chao Veasna, former second deputy chief of Poipet commune, at the Supreme Court. Kim Sarom

Ex-CNRP official pleads for release

The former second deputy chief of Poipet commune in Banteay Meanchey province, who was sentenced to five years behind bars last year for leading a violent protest in Poipet town in 2015, pleaded for his release at a Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday.

Chao Veasna, who was formerly from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said he was merely trying to maintain order and security when a throng of cart-pullers gathered in front of the customs and excise office on May 25, 2015, to protest “exorbitant” fees charged by its officials.

The protesters allegedly attempted to “destroy” the office when they heard a shout that one of them died at a hospital after being beaten unconscious by Military Police officers. Veasna was accused of inciting them through his false claims, a charge he flatly rejected.

“At the time, I heard [cart-pullers] shout that one of them had succumbed to injuries after being rushed to the hospital. I just echoed after them, saying it was regretful and why [Military Police officers] mistreated my people,” he said.

When asked by prosecutor Veng Bunthoeun if he had received permission from the commune chief to keep order during the protest, Veasna said he was not legally required to do so.

“As a deputy commune chief, he explained, he already possessed a mission letter issued by the commune chief when he took office and therefore could fulfil his duties without prior permission.

Veasna said the mission letter tasked him with keeping order and security and that he had always reported to the commune chief. “I did not commit any wrongdoing. Please release me so that I can make a living to support my family,” he said.

Prosecutor Bunthoeun asked the court to uphold the verdict. Citing customs officials’ accounts, he said Veasna led the protest and shouted that one of the workers had died. That, he added, prompted the protesters to storm the office in an attempt to destroy it in revenge.

Bunthoeun said the fact that Veasna was a deputy commune chief made the enraged workers believe him and resort to violence.

He asked the Supreme Court to reverse the provincial court’s charge from Article 29 of the Criminal Code to Article 28.

“Since his arrest, the situation in Poipet town has been calm and peaceful. Please uphold the Appeal Court’s verdict,” he urged.

Defence lawyer Chuong Chou Ngy said his client was innocent and was just doing his job. Under Article 40 of the Public Administration Law, he said, Veasna was not legally required to obtain permission from the commune chief to maintain order during the protest.

Chou Ngy argued that the court had not summoned seven other workers who had been charged with conspiracy to testify. He said they had only been sentenced in absentia and therefore had the right to appeal the verdict.

“There are not enough evidence and witnesses, so please release my client,” he said.

The Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on October 2.


  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from