Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dissident’s case has day in court

Dissident’s case has day in court

Dissident’s case has day in court

A US-based Cambodian dissident, who has been labelled a terrorist by the government, was tried in absentia by Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday over allegations he incited a military coup.

Judge Top Chhunheng said Sourn Serey Ratha, leader of the Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM), is accused of calling on the country’s armed forces to turn their weapons on Prime Minister Hun Sen in a Facebook post dated August 14, 2013. He is charged with “incitement to commit a crime”, Chhunheng said.

The message, which was read to the court, was titled “The Nonviolent Rose for Change”.

“Every heroic soldier! Turn your guns against the despot and sacrifice your life to protect the people who have the same Khmer blood because Cambodian troops and Cambodian people are Khmer and we have to protect each other,” it said.

During yesterday’s hearing, the court questioned six witnesses, including two police officers and four people – Tut Chan Panha, Sok Dalis, Hy Borin and Ly Linpheng – who were charged last August with incitement and briefly detained for allegedly producing and distributing materials encouraging a military coup under the orders of Serey Ratha.

The four witnesses said they did not know Serey Ratha and were only in contact with him through Facebook, when they wanted to buy flowers to distribute to military personnel.

Deputy prosecutor Meas Chan Piseth called for more severe charges for Serey Ratha.

“I would like to ask the court to transfer this case to the investigating judge to re-investigate under the additional charge of the act of traitory and for him to be strongly punished.”

Defence lawyer Sok Sam Oeun said Serey Ratha’s message was not intended to incite any violence.

Serey Ratha could not be reached for comment.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

MOST VIEWED

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman