Five members of the Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF) party were sent to court for questioning yesterday after being arrested on Friday in a Phnom Penh house raid and accused of incitement for carrying leaflets calling for public protests and the release of political prisoners, according to an official.
Chim Savoeun, 37; Duong Nanta Ananda, 38; Prak San, 50; Khuon Tam, 67; and Chen Sarith, 53, were arrested while gathering at Nanta Ananda’s home in Russei Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune, with the papers in Savoeun’s possession, according to a post on the National Police website.
The leaflets, which they were allegedly intending to pass out during Water Festival, called for the release of fellow KNLF party members and prominent politicians, including jailed CNRP leader Kem Sokha. The charges against the politicians are widely believed to be politically motivated.
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Sim Vuthy, deputy Phnom Penh police chief, said the group intended to “make chaos” in Cambodia with the leaflets. After further questioning today, the court will deliberate the police’s suggested charge of incitement, he said, which carries a sentence of one to three years in prison.
Sam Serey, self-exiled leader of the KNLF – which the government has long dubbed a terrorist group without putting evidence forward – said this was merely another CPP attempt to throw empty claims at its competition for political gain.
“I think the ruling party is concerned about losing the upcoming election,” he said. “[They] cracked down recently and tried to persecute members of KNLF, [which] is a serious political crisis.”
Additional reporting by Janelle Retka