Two Cambodia Daily reporters received a second summons from the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court yesterday in relation to a complaint filed by three Pate commune residents alleging the pair “incited people” in the course of seemingly routine election reporting.
A copy of the summons, dated June 28, asks the two reporters – Zsombor Peter and Aun Pheap – to appear before the court on July 20, where each of them will be questioned separately.
Court Prosecutor Chea Pich said he had sent the summons but could not confirm the date.
“I only can say we are following the legal procedure. We issued 20 days before they have to appear because the persons are outside the province,” he said.
Cambodia Daily General Manager Douglas Steele confirmed he had received the summons, but declined to comment on the advice of legal counsel.
The case dates back to the commune election campaign, when the reporters asked routine questions to residents on the commune’s electoral prospects and voting history.
However, former CNRP Commune Chief Rmam Yout and two other villagers filed a complaint against the reporters saying they were not allowed to ask such questions based on the National Election Committee’s code of conduct for reporters.
The code forbids publishing “confusing information” that erodes trust in the election and insulting a national institution or candidate. The guidelines could have been used to stifle independent coverage, said critics.
The court sent a first summons for June 27, but the Daily management said it never received the summons.