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Incitement charge: Monk claims ignorance at questioning

Incitement charge: Monk claims ignorance at questioning

A BUDDHIST monk walked free from court yesterday after appearing on a summons to face accusations of inciting protesters involved in a land dispute in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Buddhist monk Sieng Sovannara, who lives in Samki Raingsey pagoda, was allowed to leave Phnom Penh Municipal Court without charge after being questioned for more than an hour, but said he feared for his safety.

Seng Sokha, court clerk of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, questioned Sieng Sovannara, 31, about his role in a protest led by villagers and other monks over a land dispute with a wealthy trader.

During questioning, the monk, who is originally from Khmer Kampuchea Krom, was asked if he had any involvement with US-based Sourn Serey Ratha, president of the Cambodian Action Committee for Justice and Equity, a vocal government critic. The court clerk also asked if he knew Luon Savath, a high-profile monitor of land disputes.

Sieng Sovannara said he did not know the two men. “I am afraid of my own safety because I don’t know Sourn Serey Ratha and Luon Savath. I want the court to end the case and not accuse a person who knows nothing,” he said.

Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association, which organised Sieng Sovannara’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

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