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Couple flees country over leaflet accusation

Couple flees country over leaflet accusation

TWO opposition Sam Rainsy Party activists suspected of distributing antigovernment leaflets in the capital last week have fled to Thailand for fear of arrest, but continue to deny any involvement in the incident.

Chea Socheab and his wife Chea Daly came under suspicion after the fliers appeared around Wat Phnom on the morning of August 11. A motorbike-taxi driver arrested in connection with the incident told police that he took Chea Daly to distribute the leaflets on that day and then dropped her off at the SRP’s headquarters on Sothearos Boulevard.

The two fled to Thailand soon afterwards.
Speaking by phone yesterday, Chea Socheab denied any involvement in the scattering of the fliers.

“My wife has been pregnant for five or six months; how was she able to do that? The government must find clear proof to accuse us,” he said. “I have wondered so much about why they have accused us like this.”

He said that the pair had no idea about the origin of the fliers, which lambasted the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and accused senior officials of being stooges of Vietnam.

Chea Socheab, a longtime SRP activist who was briefly arrested during election campaigning in 2003, said that he and his wife fled because they did not trust the Cambodian court system to try their case fairly.

Phnom Penh municipal police chief Touch Naruth said Tuesday that police had sent the case to the court and he would pursue the couple if requested.

“If an offence has occurred, I must follow it. I will not give up,” he said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said yesterday that police have not yet received an arrest warrant for the pair, and that there was little evidence tying the two to the leaflets. “If he flees it is up to him. We do not have anything to put the heat on him,” he said.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator for local rights group Adhoc, confirmed that the pair had contacted his organisation from Thailand seeking help, and called on the authorities to drop the charges.

“We must receive the criticism. We are public officials,” he said.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment.

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