Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court date for dissident accused of incitement

Court date for dissident accused of incitement

Court date for dissident accused of incitement

A US-based Cambodian dissident who has been labelled a terrorist by the government will face charges of incitement at Phnom Penh Municipal Court next month, he and his lawyer said yesterday.

Sourn Serey Ratha, the leader of the Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM), will go on trial on July 9 for “incitement to commit a crime”, his lawyer, Sok Sam Ouen, told the Post.

According to Sam Ouen, the charges relate to “a case last year involving handing out leaflets and flowers”.

In August 2013, four people accused of distributing hundreds of leaflets encouraging a military coup, allegedly under the orders of Serey Ratha, were arrested.

All denied the charges and two of the defendants said they had been arrested while picking up flowers they intended to hand out to troops posted around the city.

The four were released on bail later that month and according to Am Sam Ath, senior investigator at rights group Licadho, the charges were dropped last September.

Officials at Phnom Penh Municipal Court would not confirm the details of Serey Ratha’s case yesterday.

“It is linked to national security so I haven’t been told this information,” court clerk Heng Vireak said.

Officials at the Interior Ministry and National Police could not be reached.

Serey Ratha, who is also charged with treason in a separate case, said that he was unsure what the latest charges related to and would not be attending the trial.

“If I attend, they will arrest me, [and] then I will loss my opportunity to . . . liberate my country”, he said by email.

Though Serey Ratha will not be at the trial, he has written a letter to the US Embassy requesting that it send an observer to monitor the case and “put more pressure on the Cambodian government to . . . free [him] without condition”.

Sam Oeun said he received a call from an embassy official yesterday “asking questions” about the trial.

But US Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said that “due to US Privacy Act considerations”, he could not “offer any comment on the case”.

Additional reporting by Khouth Sophak Chakrya

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