More than 50 journalists gathered in front of Banteay Meanchey provincial court yesterday to call for the release of a reporter after the court detained him for a traffic accident case and a prosecutor allegedly demanded hundreds of dollars in exchange for letting him go.
Kea Sopheak, 29, a reporter from Today News, was arrested on Friday after he crashed into a man who ran across the road, lightly injuring him.
Journalists were outraged at the arrest, according to local reporter Chea Sokun, who went with peers to protest outside the court. The large turnout, though, appeared to have a short-lived impact.
“We went to the court on Friday to intervene, and then the court agreed to release him to his home, but on Saturday, the court officials took his car to keep him in the court and detain him in prison,” he said.
The kerfuffle appeared to be over, but prosecutor Phan Vanroth would not release Sopheak unless he coughed up US$300, he added.
Vanroth denied the accusations.“What they accused me of, extorting the money from the reporter, is completely wrong,” he said.
Vanroth suggested that the confusion could stem from the plaintiff’s request for US$600 in compensation. He also claimed that Sopheak has been released while the court investigates the case.