The Ratanakkiri provincial court placed Theng Savoeun, director of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC) and two of his colleagues in pre-trial detention on two charges on May 22, for what police officials referred to as an attempt to incite a “farmers’ revolution”.

Provincial court spokesman Keo Piseth told The Post on May 23 that Savoeun and two of his colleagues – Nhil Pheap and Phan Hach – have been charged with incitement to commit crimes under Article 495 and plotting an assault on the authorities, under Article of 453 of the Criminal Code.

“At this time, the trio are in pre-trial detection in Ratanakkiri provincial prison,” he added.

They will face prison terms of five years to 10 years if found guilty of the above offences.

On the morning of May 17, at the request of Ratanakiri police, officers in Kratie province arrested Savoeun and 16 other members of the CCFC while they were en route from Ratanakkiri province to Phnom Penh. During the arrest, the police seized their mobile phones and 17 laptops.

On the morning of May 18, 14 of the 17 were released and had their electronic devices returned to them. Savoeun, Pheap and Hach were taken to the Ratanakkiri police station for further questioning.

Ratanakkiri deputy provincial police chief Oem Phany told The Post that the arrests were made because on May 14-15 they had held a meeting at a hotel in Banlung town and attempted to indoctrinate farmers into spearheading a “farmers’ revolution”.

“Officers examined the comments they made on the last day of the conference, along with several documents, and determined that the suspects had tried to incite the farmers to oppose government officials,” he added.

Members of the CCFC, as well as Savoeun’s wife Nhuong Sokheang, denied the allegations and appealed to the head of government to intervene and organise the release of her husband.