Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Case against Cambodia Daily journalists progresses

Case against Cambodia Daily journalists progresses

Former opposition commune chief Rmam Yout (right), seen in a photograph with the current CPP Pate commune chief-elect Chhay Thy. Facebook
Former opposition commune chief Rmam Yout (right), seen in a photograph with the current CPP Pate commune chief-elect Chhay Thy. Facebook

Case against Cambodia Daily journalists progresses

After questioning three residents of Ratanakkiri’s Pate commune yesterday, the provincial court announced that two Cambodia Daily reporters would be summonsed in two weeks to respond to questions regarding a complaint filed against them for seemingly routine reporting.

Provincial Prosecutor Chea Pich said that plaintiffs Rocham Yi, 28, Sev Born, 35, and former CNRP Commune Chief Rmam Yout, 41, were questioned yesterday, after their summonsing on June 4. “I just want to tell you that they already appeared to be questioned,” he said.

He said the court would summons the two journalists for June 27. Pich said he was unaware of the specific charges against the two journalists. Previously, he had pointed to Article 171 of the Commune Election Law, which prohibits “causing confusion that leads to a loss of trust” and compromising the secrecy of a vote.

The journalists – Zsombor Peter and Aun Pheap – allegedly asked villagers why they had supported the opposition Sam Rainsy Party in the 2012 commune elections, while the rest of the province mostly voted for the Cambodian People’s Party.

Despite the routine nature of the interviews – which came in the lead-up to the June 4 commune poll – the trio lodged a complaint against the journalists on May 22 for asking questions that they said were “incitement with bad intention”.

The government was accused of creating a hostile press environment ahead of the poll, with the National Election Committee releasing a vaguely worded and restrictive code of conduct – dubbed a “code of censorship” by critics – for media outlets, accompanied by threats to revoke the licences of violators.

Born yesterday said he had asked for $3,000 to drop the matter, despite the fact that neither the Commune Election Law nor the article for incitement appear to allow for compensation. “I was asked whether I want to continue the case, or stop it here, or what I want. I said I need 12 million riel in compensation for me alone,” he said, and added that if the journalists failed to compensate him, he would ask the court to imprison them. “It’s incitement when reporting about politics during the [election] campaign.”

Fellow plaintiff Yout said he was questioned for about 10 minutes. “[The journalists] asked me who and what party I support. I did not tell them. I will vote for any party I like. It’s my right,” Yout said, adding that the court would decide on potential compensation.

Yi could not be reached.

Cambodia Daily General Manager Douglas Steele said he had heard of neither the questioning nor any summons. Asked whether the two reporters would appear, he said that “we will comply with Cambodian law . . . They committed an act of journalism, and that’s not a crime.”

Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen defends decision to dock Westerdam cruise ship

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday hit back at critics who say he allowed the Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville for political reasons. Speaking at an annual gathering of the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen said he acted to avert a humanitarian catastrophe

  • Hun Sen asks Cambodians to believe in government

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday asked citizens and investors to trust that the government will overcome the challenges brought about by Covid-19 and the loss of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. Speaking to reporters at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh,

  • Westerdam passenger ‘never had’ Covid-19

    The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the US citizen that allegedly tested positive in Malaysia after travelling on the Westerdam was never infected with Covid-19 in the first place. In an article published in the newspaper USA Today on Friday, CDC

  • ‘Ghost staff’ found, $1.7M returned to state coffers

    The Ministry of Civil Service said more than seven billion riel ($1.7 million) in salaries for civil servants was returned to the state last year after it discovered that the books had been cooked to pay ‘ghost officials’. This is despite claims by the Ministry of

  • Woman wanted for killing own son

    Police in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district are on the lookout for a woman who allegedly hacked her son to death on Sunday in Stung Meanchey III commune. District police chief Meng Vimeandara identified the son as Chan Sokhom, 32. “The offender can’t escape forever.

  • Malaysia in turmoil

    Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has done it again. At the centre of two days of high drama and political manoeuvring, he has, wittingly or not, contributed to shaking Malaysia, and further causing its equities market to fall nearly three per cent. The drama