Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-CNRP commune chief in court

Ex-CNRP commune chief in court

Former Poipet Commune Chief Chao Veasna appears at the Supreme Court last year. He was tried with nine others on Monday over a protest that turned violent in the border town in 2015.
Former Poipet Commune Chief Chao Veasna appears at the Supreme Court last year. He was tried with nine others on Monday over a protest that turned violent in the border town in 2015. Pha Lina

Ex-CNRP commune chief in court

The Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court held a hearing on Monday in the trial of former CNRP Commune Chief Chao Veasna, local unionist Mang Puthy and eight transportation workers in relation to a 2015 protest that turned violent in the border town.

Veasna, a former opposition commune chief, was arrested in 2017 and charged with incitement and for being an “accomplice” to the destruction of property, nearly two years after transportation workers hurled rocks at the Poipet Customs Department building.

Demonstrators protesting import taxes were dispersed after Military Police fired warning shots, with one protester seriously injured after being beaten by police. Veasna has claimed he was only observing the protest in his capacity as a local official.

He went on to win the 2017 commune elections while still in prison, but lost his position following the forced dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party in November.

Unionist Puthy, who is facing the same charges, says he came to the protest because some of the protesting workers were represented by his union. He was at the centre of a controversy last year involving a Poipet immigration officer who claimed Puthy hit him with an SUV. A video of the incident showed that Puthy’s car was stationary when Chhean Pisith, the officer in question, abruptly dropped to the ground in front of it.

Veasna, Puthy and one transportation worker, Yim Sothy – who along with the other workers is charged with destruction of property – were the only accused present at court, with Licadho Coordinator In Kongchit saying the hearing had been delayed three times. A verdict is expected on Tuesday.

“He [Veasna] said he did not commit anything wrong, he did not incite people, he did not order them to hurl the rocks,” Kongchit said.

Puthy, president of the Cambodia Informal Economy Reinforced Association, told the court that he was not in Poipet town when the protest started and only reached the city later, attempting to broker a compromise between officials and workers.

“I did not go to incite them. I did not collude as the prosecutor charged me,” he said.

Veasna’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, only said that the verdict was expected on Tuesday morning. He also filed another bail request for the former commune chief.

Veasna has requested bail in the past citing poor health and was hospitalised last June for an appendix surgery.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • 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