Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawyer seeks bail for Kong Mas, the former CNRP activist from Svay Rieng

Lawyer seeks bail for Kong Mas, the former CNRP activist from Svay Rieng

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Defence lawyer Sam Sokong (left) sits with Kong Mas in Prey Sar prison on Sunday. Photo supplied

Lawyer seeks bail for Kong Mas, the former CNRP activist from Svay Rieng

The defence lawyer for Kong Mas, the former CNRP activist from Svay Rieng province who was arrested on Wednesday, said he will submit a request to the court in the middle of this week to allow his client to be released on bail. He claimed that Mas will follow procedures by appearing in court and not abscond.

Sam Sokong told The Post on Sunday that he will visit his client in prison either on Tuesday or Wednesday this week and then submit a letter to the court asking for him to be released on bail.

His comments came after Mas was arrested on Wednesday by Phnom Penh authorities and detained in Prey Sar prison on Saturday to await trial. He was reportedly charged with publicly insulting and incitement under Articles 307 and 495 of the Criminal Code.

However, Sokong said the criminal proceedings had violated his client's rights.

“Mas has asked his lawyer to submit a letter to the court requesting that he be released on bail because he thinks he is eligible for it under Article 205 of the Criminal Code . . . He promises to appear in court according to legal proceedings,” he said.

Sokong said that Mas should have been summoned by the court before being arrested, but instead he was taken into custody without a summons being issued, which allegedly violated his rights.

He said he was yet to receive documents relating to the arrest, but the court had said it complied with an order from Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Keo Sothea.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin replied that the court has complied with all legal proceedings.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told The Post that it had been found that Mas had spread false information and caused incitement – which could threaten national security and cause chaos – before last year's national elections.

Local media outlet Fresh News reported that according to a police report, evidence of wrongdoing had been found on Mas' computer, including documents revealing a plot led by the co-founder of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, Sam Rainsy, to overthrow the government.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

It was alleged that Mas posted on Facebook a number of messages critical of the government.

"Hun Sen's administration thinks only of power. Days pass by but it didn’t pay any attention to finding a market for the produce of farmers, [who are] especially neglected and ignored; it didn’t properly manage the market for the farmers to boost their livelihoods. All Cambodians please rise up and protest for our livelihoods and change,” one reportedly reads.

Mas' final post last week is said to have read: "Round one – the European Union has taken the first step to impose tariffs on rice imports from Cambodia, with a tax of $200.33 per tonne, according to a Reuters report last Monday.”

Defence lawyer Sokong said the charges against his client were politically motivated because they were said to relate to posts made before last year's national elections, while Mas was merely expressing his opinion as a citizen, using his human rights to participate in politics and criticise the government.

Mao Vibol, the former head of the CNRP in Svay Rieng province, said Mas’ arrest was causing fear among other opposition activists. He asked the court to drop the charges.

"On behalf of the party in this province, I am worried about the activists and members who are working in Svay Rieng province who are scared. However, we will still struggle for democracy, freedom and justice for the Kingdom," he said.

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