Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP activists given seven-year terms over protest-turned-violent




CNRP activists given seven-year terms over protest-turned-violent

Opposition activist Yon Kimhour arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday before being sentenced to seven years in jail for his involvement in a 2014 Freedom Park protest that turned violent.
Opposition activist Yon Kimhour arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday before being sentenced to seven years in jail for his involvement in a 2014 Freedom Park protest that turned violent. Pha Lina

CNRP activists given seven-year terms over protest-turned-violent

Three opposition party activists were yesterday sentenced to seven years in prison over their alleged roles in a 2014 anti-government protest at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park that turned violent.

The trio were convicted of “participating in an insurrection”, and will join another 11 CNRP supporters who were convicted last year over the demonstration.

“After discussion based on facts and laws, the trial council decides to sentence Roen Chetra, Yon Kimhour, and Yea Thong . . . to seven years in jail,” said judge Mong Mony Sophea.

The case has been widely decried as politically motivated.

Immediately after the sentence, Chetra, a youth member for the CNRP’s Tuol Kork branch, spoke up to compare the harsh verdict to the largely suspended sentence given last month to three soldiers from the prime minister’s Bodyguard Unit who had confessed to a vicious assault on two opposition lawmakers.

“Those who beat the lawmakers, broke their noses and arms, got four years and three of [those years] suspended,” Chetra said. “It is really unjust. There is no transparency, no independence in Cambodia’s courts.”

Uneven sentences

Yesterday’s defendants were arrested in August last year after Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly called for more arrests over the 2014 brawl, which left about 40 security guards and several protesters injured.

The unrest had followed an attempt by opposition members to reopen the then-barricaded Freedom Park, a focal point for peaceful anti-government protests that had been repeatedly and violently dispersed by Daun Penh district guards in the wake of the disputed 2013 elections.

During a two-day trial last month, all three men testified that the Daun Penh guards had instigated the violence.

Chetra had admitted to striking one guard while being attacked himself as he tried to help an injured friend. Kimhour told the court he had swung a flag pole at guards, but missed. Thong, however, maintained he had merely stopped at the demonstration to capture video.

About a dozen relatives yesterday burst into tears and moans after hearing the verdict. The trio’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, also compared the case to that of the Bodyguard Unit soldiers, who will be eligible for release in five months.

Sokong said that although both involved violence, the significant discrepancy in sentences was clearly influenced by politics. “If we look at the facts, they are criminal cases, but if we look beyond that, it is a political issue as they are politicians and CNRP activists,” he said, adding he would demand a retrial.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Police arrest 29 Chinese for kidnapping in capital

    Phnom Penh Military Police arrested 29 Chinese nationals on kidnapping charges on Wednesday. The suspects are said to have abducted three other Chinese nationals from a hotel in Chaktomuk commune, Daun Penh district. The operation took place on Wednesday and was led by two deputy commanders –

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia