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Second man detained on Kem Ley memorial charge

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Kung Raiya is taken to court in Phnom Penh on Wedensday. Another man, Suong Neakpaon, was arrested the same day and both have been placed in pre-trial detention for inciting others to commit a crime. Hong Menea

Second man detained on Kem Ley memorial charge

Another man was placed in pre-trial detention on Friday after being charged with inciting others to commit a crime, following a memorial to mark the third anniversary of the killing of popular activist Kem Ley.

Suong Neakpaon was placed in pre-trial detention by a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge on Friday, the day after Kung Reiya was detained on the same charge.

Ley, 45, was shot twice with a Glock handgun at a Caltex petrol station cafe on the capital’s Monivong Boulevard in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune on July 10, 2016.

Neakpaon was arrested on Wednesday, July 10, following Reiya’s arrest the previous night.

Both men allegedly printed T-shirts featuring Ley’s images and quotes and distributed leaflets conveying his messages.

The arrest order issued by Investigating Judge Ek Polifil on Friday said Neakpoan was being detained at Correctional Centre 1, also known as Prey Sar Prison.

Neakpoan was arrested by Chamkarmon district police on Wednesday morning while distributing leaflets because the police deemed his actions to constitute an incitement to commit a crime.

Municipal court spokesman Kuch Kimlong said: “The investigating judge issued an arrest warrant to detain Suong Neakpoan at Prey Sar prison and charged him with inciting others to commit a crime, which was the same charge as for Kung Reiay.”

Khmer Student Intelligent League Association president Moung Sony told The Post on Sunday that Neakpoan is a member of his association but said he was only a supporter of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), not an activist, and neither did he have any role in the opposition party.

“I would like to challenge the leadership of the former CNRP who are exiled abroad. Please do not link Neakpoan’s case to benefit your political movement.

“Please feel sorry for him because he is innocent and wants to live normally like other people. This is very unfair for Neakpoan,” Sony said.

Soeung Sen Karuna, the spokesperson for the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (Adhoc), told The Post on Sunday that he was upset about the charges brought against the two men.

He said the annual commemoration of Ley’s slaying was an event that the public is well aware of and they generally know that July 10 is the date he was killed.

“This is not a criminal case as the judge has claimed if we look at the articles describing the term of ‘inciting others to commit a crime’."

“Those two people would have had to have spoken in public and told a person to commit a crime, but what we see is that there were no words that can confirm they told anyone to commit any crime,” Sen Karuna said.

On Friday, more than 80 NGOs – including Adhoc, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (Licadho) – issued a joint statement expressing concern over the authorities’ use of unreasonable force during the anniversary commemorations.

They requested the authorities to swiftly and unconditionally release Reiya and Neakpoan from prison and drop the charges against them.

The statement said the two men were merely exercising their right to freedom of expression and had not used any violence.

“The court’s charges against the two men make any commemoration of Kem Ley’s death an illegal activity, including just participating in the memorial service or wearing a T-shirt featuring Ley’s image and his quotes."

“Imprisoning people for gathering peacefully shows that the small remaining freedom of expression in Cambodia is under serious and systematic intimidation,” the statement said.

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