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

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.

  • Preah Sihanouk hit with travel ban

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has announced a temporary travel ban to and from the province, except for ambulances and trucks transporting goods. The announcement came after prime minister Hun Sen called on people in the province to travel only if necessary, and that people not