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Germans in poster pinch

Germans in poster pinch

A group of young Germans were questioned by police early on Saturday morning after removing Cambodian People’s Party election posters in Phnom Penh, the German Embassy confirmed yesterday.

Horst Triller, first secretary and deputy head of mission at the embassy, said six German nationals volunteering in the Kingdom were “confronted” by police in Tuol Tumpong district in the early hours.

“At around 1am, these young people . . . after a party . . . thought they were unobserved and had the brilliant idea in a foreign country to tear down election material,” he said.

Spotted by a security guard who called the police, the group was taken to the police station for questioning until 3am, he added, after which they were released with their passports.

According to Triller, although the Germans’ personal data was recorded and they were given a strong warning, no charges have been laid and they do not require consular assistance.

The group, three of whom were placed at the German government-owned German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), are “free” and have “nothing to fear”, Triller said.

A number of police officials denied knowledge of the case yesterday.

National Election Committee secretary-general Tep Nytha said that, if it was not an election complaint, the group could be charged with the destruction of someone’s property.

GIZ director Adelbert Eberhardt declined to comment on whether his organisation had advised its volunteers to leave the country.

Triller confirmed that immigration authorities have said the group will be allowed to leave the country, although the embassy has not directly advised it.

“I understand they are pretty much in shock . . . I can imagine one or another will decide to leave earlier. I’m sure they are considering it,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MAY TITTHARA

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