Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court upholds Serey Ratha verdict




Court upholds Serey Ratha verdict

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former Khmer Power Party President Sourn Serey Ratha, seen in handcuffs, gets out of a police vehicle following his arrest in August 2017. Photo supplied

Court upholds Serey Ratha verdict

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the five-year prison term handed down to the founder and former president of the Khmer Power Party, Sourn Serey Ratha, over posting a message to Facebook in August 2017 criticising the deployment of Cambodian troops to the Laos border.

Ratha suggested that soldiers in the field would suffer while the military’s leaders stayed back to enjoy “money” and “girls”.

Presiding Judge Khem Pun said that the Supreme Court “has decided to uphold the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and the Appeal Court”.

Ratha’s lawyer Chan Rapiseth declined to comment on the verdict.

Ratha, 44, was arrested in Phnom Penh over the post claiming a war with Laos would not be any different from earlier wars against Siam, now Thailand.

“Cambodian soldiers will die in battle . . . and the commanders will be promoted and have money to spend lavishly on women,” he wrote.

He was found guilty on August 25 last year and sentenced to five years in prison on three charges under the Criminal Code. On the first charge he was found guilty under Article 471 of inciting the armed forces to disobey orders. He was also found guilty of demotivating the army – an offence under Article 472 – and incitement to commit a crime, punishable under articles 494 and 495.

In a letter posted to his Facebook page on May 15, Ratha apologised to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, expressing regret for having insulted Hun Sen and the army, and asking the prime minister to pardon him.

“I, Sourn Serey Ratha, regret writing the political message and posting it on Facebook without due consideration and that it seriously affected the reputation of Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] . . . I publicly and sincerely apologise to Samdech Techo [Hun Sen], Five-Star General of the Army,” he said in the letter.

In January 2004, Ratha was tried in absentia on charges of “incitement to topple the government” and sentenced to seven years in jail. He was also fined 25 million riel (around $6,250). In July 2015, he was pardoned by King Sihamoni and returned to Cambodia that October.

Ratha formed the Khmer Power Party in 2010, with it officially registered with the Ministry of Interior in 2015.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM slams HRW ‘double standards’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has chided Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asia director Brad Adams for keeping quiet over protest crackdowns in the US following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Addressing reporters while inspecting infrastructure development in Preah Sihanouk province on Monday,

  • Bank robber of $6M asks to be released

    An accused bank robber who admitted to stealing $6 million has asked the Supreme Court to release him temporarily because he had returned the money. In a court hearing on Tuesday Chan Simuntha, 39, told the judge that on January 18, his wife Teang Vathanaknearyroth told him that

  • WHO: Antibiotics cause more deaths

    Increased antibiotics use in combating the Covid-19 pandemic will strengthen bacterial resistance and ultimately lead to more deaths during the crisis and beyond, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a “worrying number” of bacterial infections were becoming

  • Children in poverty said to rise by 86M

    The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children warned that if urgent measures are not taken, the number of children living in poverty across low- and middle-income countries could increase by 86 million, a 15 per cent jump, by the end of the year. In

  • Four more Cambodian peacekeepers get Covid-19 in Mali

    Four more Cambodian Blue Helmet peacekeepers in Mali have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of infected Cambodian UN peacekeepers to 10. National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces and Explosive Remnants of War deputy director-general and spokeswoman Kosal Malinda told The Post on Tuesday

  • Huge tracks of undocumented land a concern for registration officials

    Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Ly Samrith expressed concern that land registration plans for residents scheduled to be completed by late 2021 could not be achieved because 80 per cent of the land had not been registered. Land dispute issues are a major factor that poses a