THE Constitutional Council has upheld the National Election Committee (NEC) trial council’s verdict to impose fines of five million riel ($1,200) each on two former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) members and to punish another with a 10 million riel fine.
Constitutional Council president Im Chhun Lim who presided as chairman of the panel which heard the case yesterday, announced the decision against the three defendants who challenged the August 8 decision relating to the “Clean Finger Campaign” in Battambang province.
Lim said the council upheld the NEC’s decision of August 8, as “the decree was final, decisive, and effective. To enforce all the powers provided for in the Constitution and to be published in the civil service”.
The five accused were Chea Chiv, Thorng Saroeun, Mang Chhun, Pov Taing and Kruy Kim Saing.
The trial council ordered Chiv to pay 10 million riel, while Saroeun and Saing were told to pay a lesser amount of five million each. However, Chhun and Taing escaped punishment.
Chea Chiv is the former CNRP executive commander in Battambang and one of the 118 officials banned from political activity by the Supreme Court in November last year.
Unhappy with the decision, the three members then took their plight to the Constitutional Council.Sam Sokong, a lawyer representing the three accused, said the decision was “extremely unjust” for his clients because they had no intention of preventing anyone from voting.
In July, the Battambang Provincial Election Committee (PEC) had ordered the five court dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) members to pay 10 million riel for “prohibiting people from voting”.
The accusation was based on a complaint filed by Piv Hoy, the second deputy commune chief from the Cambodian People’s Party, in Anlong Vel commune, Sangke district.
All the accused filed a reply to the NEC and sought leniency, and last Wednesday the trial council passed its judgment.
Soun Chamroeun, a representative of the three accused, said that it was extremely unfair that the Constitutional Council decided to defend the NEC’s decision because the accused were ordinary citizens and not politicians.
They did not influence the election process and did nothing illegal.
However, Ham Mony, the plaintiff‘s lawyer, said raising the finger was a symbol of the Clean Finger Campaign, similar to the “Sleep Home and Win” campaign, which had a political motive.
He also said raising the finger meant the five had participated in a campaign to incite people to boycott the national elections.
This was a political campaign promoted by the former CNRP, which urged its ex-members to boycott the July 29 national elections. They had also claimed the elections were faked.