Nine opposition members were charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today for their role in a demonstration that descended into brutal violence on Tuesday, party officials and rights groups said.
Of the nine, six were in court and have been sent to pre-trial detention in Prey Sar prison.
Elected lawmakers Mu Sochua, Keo Phirom, Men Sothavarin, Ho Vann and Real Camerin have been charged with insurrection as well as incitement and instigation of violent acts, CNRP defence lawyer Ket Khy told the Post.
“All of them have been sent to Prey Sar prison,” he added.
CNRP chief whip Son Chhay told the Post that two other lawmakers-elect, Long Ry and Nuth Romduol, as well as CNRP member Khin Roeun have also been charged with the same crimes but have not yet been arrested.
Oeun Narith, an official in the CNRP’s public affairs department, faces the same charges, rights group Licadho said.
The charge of leading an insurrection could result in a prison sentence of up to 30 years, according to Cambodia’s penal code.
In a post to her Facebook page yesterday, Sochua said she had been “charged for inciting violence and criminal acts”.
“I will be detained with the rest of my colleagues and youths. This is all unconstitutional, as our parliamentary [immunity] has not yet been lifted. We call on all to stay united and continue our fight for freedom, human rights and liberties,” she said.
Sochua, Phirom and Sothavarin were all initially detained inside the razor-wire barricades surrounding Freedom Park during a morning demonstration on Naga Bridge on Tuesday that saw protesters savagely attack the security guards – well known for acts of violence during government-approved crackdowns – who attempted to forcefully disperse them.
Guards beaten senseless
Later that day, Vann was detained after showing up at police headquarters.
At about 2am this morning, Camerin – who last night told the Post that he planned to stay in Phnom Penh – was arrested while driving to Battambang province.
Narith was arrested at about 11am this morning while rights group Licadho was attempting to drive him to the CNRP headquarters.
Licadho director Naly Pilorge told the Post that the six police officers who carried out the arrest were “asked to show an arrest warrant, but they wouldn’t”.
Earlier today, hundreds of opposition supporters gathered outside of the court where the CNRP members were being questioned.
Armed police guarded the area, blocking off roads to the courthouse.
CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha told the crowd the CNRP would hold a “mass demonstration” if the politicians were not released.
Party whip Son Chhay, who stood with the crowds outside of the court, visited Sochua shortly before 4pm.
“She’s fine; very strong in spirit. They [the arrested CNRP members] know they are fighting for the right thing and are innocent. They told me not to worry and that they will continue this fight for freedom,” he said.