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Death threat suspect arrested

Phorng Seyha poses for a photo at a police station in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet town over the weekend after he was arrested for death threats against Sok Touch.
Phorng Seyha poses for a photo at a police station in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet town over the weekend after he was arrested for death threats against Sok Touch. NATIONAL POLICE

Death threat suspect arrested

A suspect accused of posting a death threat on Facebook aimed at a prominent Cambodian researcher was arrested in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town on Saturday after he was caught trying to cross back into Cambodia from Thailand, according to police.

Phorng Seyha, a 27-year-old who migrated illegally into Thailand, was caught and handed over to authorities at the border checkpoint following a joint operation between Thai and Cambodian authorities.

“With the cooperation of Thai authorities, the suspect was expelled from Thailand because he was a Cambodian illegal immigration worker in Thailand,” the website said.

However, Seyha was named as a suspect in relation to a death threat he allegedly posted on his Facebook account directed at Sok Touch, the head of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s research team in charge of investigating border demarcation.

Alongside a picture of a pistol laid down next to 10 bullets, Seyha allegedly wrote: “The gun is being kept to shoot Sok Touch in the head, a dog doctor, a doctor that changes history and a doctor that sold his brain to yuon,” a word considered by many to be a derogatory term for Vietnamese people.

Furthermore, police reported that the suspect had confessed to the threat, and to stealing money from a pagoda in his hometown of Prey Kongtrung village, located in Prey Veng province’s Ba Phnom district, when he went to Thailand in 2012.

Touch, who has reportedly been subject to numerous threats on Facebook and other social media over his involvement researching Cambodia’s disputed border with neighbouring Vietnam, said he would support authorities’ efforts to investigate the case in accordance with the law.

“I think that, if it’s right or wrong, people can speak with each other, but insults and threats against the life of another are not good,” Touch said yesterday.

“It depends on the police to proceed with the case.”

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith could not be reached for comment yesterday.

According to Article 233 of the Kingdom’s Criminal Code, a death threat is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 4 million riel (about $244), “if it is repeated, or made by means of a written document, image or any kind of object”.

Last month, amid claims by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and others that government maps used to determine the Cambodia-Vietnam border were possibly misleading or not valid, Touch and his team asserted that most of the maps up for debate, including 24 out of the 26 collected by the CNRP, were largely the same.

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