A local reporter in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district has been placed in pre-trial detention for lese-majeste in relation to the July 23 general election.

According to the provincial police, before his arrest on July 22, Svay Sophat had gone live on Facebook, posing a question about the King’s willingness to sign a letter calling on people to go to the polls and his unwillingness to endorse a death sentence for convicted criminals in general.

Sophat, who contributed to the little-known “Nak Merl Phlov” (Street Watcher) website, allegedly committed the offence in Trapaing Chor commune’s Phlech village. Following police questioning, he conceded that he was responsible for the live post.

Investigating Judge Pen Kamongka detained the 50-year-old under Article 437 of the Criminal Code.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, emphasised the importance of word selection in reportage. He said journalists ought to refrain from any language that is tantamount to an insult to the monarchy.