The Appeal Court on Tuesday heard the case of a woman who was given a two-year prison sentence for throwing a shoe at a Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) banner displaying the image of Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly president Heng Samrin in 2017.
Footage posted and widely shared on Facebook shows a then 38-year-old Sam Sokha in April 2017 throwing a shoe at a CPP street banner in Ung village, in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nob district, the court report states.
At the original hearing, Kampong Speu provincial court sentenced her to two years in prison and a fine of five million riel ($1,250).
At the appeal hearing, Sam Sokha told the judge that she now understood her behaviour was wrong, but she was unaware at the time that such action was against the law.
“I would like to ask the court to reduce my punishment. I understand my mistake after being detained in prison. I have already apologised to Prime Minister Hun Sen,” she said.
She was charged in June 2017 with “insulting and inciting to discriminate” under articles 494, 496 and 502 of the Criminal Code.
Sam Sokha fled to Thailand but was apprehended by Thai authorities and repatriated on February 8 this year.
Prosecutor Pen Sarat said that according to the evidence and her confession, the provincial court’s verdict on March 22 this year was correct.
Sam Sokha’s defence lawyer Lor Chhunthy told The Post on Tuesday that his client had filed an appeal because the original sentence was too harsh.
She did not assault any real person but only threw a shoe at an image, he said. As for posting the video clip on Facebook, he said Sam Sokha was not an expert in technology.
“She is, in fact, the victim of technology, and she has said she understands that her behaviour was wrong. In addition, she has two little children to raise and an elderly mother to take care of. I ask to court to consider reducing her punishment,” he said.
Presiding Judge Samrith Sophal said the court will announce its verdict on May 31.