A provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc will appear in Kampong Chhnang provincial court today over a press conference last month in which he questioned the court’s decision to stop investigating four students’ claims their teacher had sexually assaulted them.
Court prosecutor Penh Vibol issued a summons to Adhoc’s Sam Chankea on August 14 ordering him to answer questions about comments he had made, according to court documents obtained yesterday.
During the press conference on July 22, Chankea called on the court to explain why it had ceased investigating allegations against a 35-year-old primary school teacher in Kampong Chhnang’s Rolea Ba’ier district.
“In the press conference last month we just expressed our regret and disappointment that the court did not pursue this case,” Chankea said.
Seven journalists, the families of four alleged victims and a commune chief were among those who attended the press conference.
The students complained to their parents in May that they had suffered months of harassment from their teacher.
This allegedly included the man touching their breasts and hugging them in class and in his home. The students also claimed he had threatened to fail them if they told anyone about the physical contact.
A complaint was filed to the provincial court on June 11 and the teacher was suspended from his teaching position and moved into a different role at the district education office.
The court, however, decided in mid-July not to continue investigating the matter and closed the case.
As well as summonsing Chankea, the court also invited journalists and workers from other NGOs, including Licadho, who were present at the press conference to attend today’s questioning as observers.
Chan Thy, a provincial stringer for DAP News, said he was one of the reporters invited to the court session.
“I will go as invited,” he said. “I attended the press conference, but … all I did was record the quotes of the alleged victims and the rights workers,” he said.
Vibol, the court prosecutor, could not be reached.