Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Former CNRP councillor sentenced to one year for incitement

Former CNRP councillor sentenced to one year for incitement

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A screenshot from a live video posted to Facebook in October by Pailin Commune Councillor Chhun Sithy, who on Friday was sentenced to one year in prison for “incitement”. Facebook

Former CNRP councillor sentenced to one year for incitement

A former CNRP commune councillor in Pailin was sentenced to one year in prison for “incitement” on Friday over videos he posted on Facebook last year.

Judge Ly Meng convicted former Stung Kach Commune Councillor Chhun Sithy of incitement to disturb social security and insulting a public official. The judge also ordered Sithy to pay $1,000 each to two complainants, according to Pailin Provincial Court Prosecutor Thol Kimhuerng.

Kimhuerng refused to answer further questions about the complainants, claiming that he did not remember who they were.

Sithy was arrested in October less than 24 hours after posting a video on Facebook rejecting Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call for Cambodia National Rescue Party officials to defect to the ruling party. At the time, prosecutors said Sithy was being charged over that video.

However, Sithy’s lawyer, Pheng Heng, said the court seemed to conflate the clip with previous videos that Sithy posted on his Facebook showing Cambodian People's Party officials arguing with opposition officials at the local commune hall.

In one of the videos, an outgoing CPP clerk threatens to “slap” a female CNRP commune councillor.

Heng said none of the videos amounted to incitement or insulting a public official.

“He did not have the intention to incite or look down on another person,” Heng said. “He just wanted to express his freedom and improve the characteristics of his staff.”

Chhun Sochea, Sithy’s younger sister, identified the complainants as the CPP clerk and the clerk’s assistant.

“They threatened to beat a CNRP commune councillor and [my brother] used a camera to take a video,” Sochea said. “Then the ones who threatened to beat others did not get accused of a crime, but the one who just took the video was guilty instead.”

“It is unjust for him because he was just keeping his stance strong,” she added. “He did not insult or incite anyone.”

Sithy is one of a string of government critics or opposition officials to face legal challenges in recent months, particularly following the forced dissolution of the CNRP at the government's behest. On Thursday, a judge sentenced a woman who threw a shoe at a CPP billboard to two years in prison for incitement to discriminate and insulting a public official. And in February, a man from Kampong Cham province was arrested on his wedding day for posting a Facebook video calling the government “authoritarian”.

The trial was monitored by the UN Office Of the High Commissioner For Human Rights in Cambodia. OHCHR representative Simon Walker declined to comment on Sithy's sentence but said in general that he "would recall the recent statement by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia" about how freedom of expression, association and assembly "should be protected and developed, not restricted."

This version updates with comment from UN Office Of the High Commissioner For Human Rights in Cambodia representative Simon Walker.

MOST VIEWED

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol