A Takeo resident was charged on Tuesday for incitement and spreading false information after he posted a video on Facebook claiming that his niece had been followed by Vietnamese nationals attempting to kidnap her.
The charges were filed as police officials, and even Prime Minister Hun Sen, have attempted to quell social media-fuelled hysteria over unverified claims of child kidnappings across the country, many of which appear to feed on racial animus towards the Vietnamese, and some of which have resulted in mob violence.
Phann Sopheak, a spokesman for the Takeo Provincial Court’s prosecutors, said Ly Chhaya, 30, was charged under articles 425 and 495 of the Criminal Code – communicating “false information” and “incitement to commit a felony”, respectively – and sent to pre-trial detention.
“He was charged yesterday by Prosecutor Tep Munin, and sent to pre-trial detention by Investigative Judge Maen Ratha on Tuesday,” he said.
Chhaya posted a video on Monday sitting alongside his niece, and said that she had been followed by two individuals whom he claimed to be Vietnamese, causing his niece to run for help after which the two disappeared.
The arrest followed two assaults, in Preah Sihanouk and Kampong Thom provinces, where the victims were falsely accused of kidnapping children to remove their kidneys. The incidents led to the arrest of an opposition activist accused of propagating the rumours.