Former Khmer Power Party head Sourn Serey Ratha was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and fined $2,500 on Friday for allegedly inciting soldiers to disobey orders by criticising the recent deployment of troops to the Lao border.
His defence lawyer, Sok Sam Oeun, yesterday said Serey Ratha was found guilty of inciting military personnel to disobedience, demoralising the army and incitement.
“That’s why he received five years,” he said. “He will appeal.”
Serey Ratha, 44, was arrested earlier this month after he wrote on Facebook that a conflict between the two countries would only harm soldiers, while generals could safely enjoy their “money” and “girls”.
A snap trial followed just a day after his arrest, but was postponed by 10 days to allow the one-time convicted “terrorist” to find a lawyer. The judgment was pronounced a day after his trial, in which he faced up to 12 years in prison.
Sam Oeun said that the judgment might intimidate others. “He just said it like that [without thinking] and got sentenced: it makes others scared and think that there is no right to talk,” he said.
Serey Ratha’s wife, Nai Chakriya, said the prison sentence of five years and 10 million riel fine (about $2,500) was too harsh.
“To me, it is unjust. It was just his expression and what he said, because he cares about the army, he loves the nation and was worried about the nation,” she said.
“He did not mean to cause a problem. But the court sentenced him like that anyway. It is not justice for him.”