A former provincial Military Police officer in Kampong Thom who was fired last year for poor performance was charged on Tuesday for a series of Facebook posts that authorities say disparaged the provincial force’s reputation.
Posting on Facebook under the handle “Yum Reach Lok Key”, Sorn Samneang claimed his firing was an injustice, noting that he had been involved in large marijuana and timber busts.
He was arrested by the National Military Police on Sunday and the Kampong Thom Provincial Court charged him the next day.
Say Nora, the provincial court’s spokesman said Samneang was charged with public defamation on Facebook and inciting to commit a crime. He faces up to two years imprisonment if convicted.
“The prosecutor charged him with two counts and forwarded the case to an investigating judge. We requested the judge to keep him in pretrial detention,” he said.
Eng Hy, a spokesman for the National Military Police, said he was questioned by provincial police and the provincial prosecutor. He said Samneang was fired last year for making several mistakes, including an incident that led to someone’s death.
Before his arrest, Samneang posted on Facebook multiple times attempting to explain the events that led to his firing. He also denied accusations, including one that he used someone else’s name to get hired as a district Military Police officer in Baray.
According to documents he posted in 2013, he received orders to crack down on drugs. This led to him and two other officers stopping a car that turned out to be carrying 172 kilograms of marijuana.
During the operation, the car owner was detained illegally by, Samneang claimed, the other two officers, who attempted to extort the driver. But he was also charged for extortion. However, he was exonerated by the court, which found he wasn’t involved.
Another document showed that Samneang had made an arrest of a truck driver hauling 90 pieces of banned luxury rosewood.
Hang Thol, his former commander in the Military Police, said Samneang was defaming him and officers under his command.
“This case is not only defamation but also inciting by disinformation. We detained him temporarily to question him as to why he’s always posting live videos on Facebook and whether he knows what he did affected others,” Thol said.
“When we listen to the video, it sounds so bad. But the people who are working very hard lose credibility because of this."
“It’s also unfair to me as a leader. He’s calling for justice like this … I am also calling for justice. Take this ‘drug case’. So, where is this big 172-kilogram drug bust? It’s only dried marijuana, who cares?
“They detained, handcuffed and chained up a man to extort him for money while [Samneang] hid in his house. Why he didn’t speak up then?”
“As for the rosewood case, Thol said that, after the arrest, instead of taking the confiscated wood to the unit headquarters as per standard protocol, Samneang left it at his mother’s house.
The National Military Police plans to hold a press conference on Wednesday to explain to the public the reasons for Samneang’s removal and arrest.