LOCAL rights group Licadho condemned a provincial court's decision to send an opposition activist to jail last week, calling it groundless and politically motivated.
Tuot Saron, who was arrested in March 2008, was sentenced last Friday to three years' imprisonment by the Kampong Thom provincial court for kidnapping and illegal confinement of an SRP member, Tim Norn, who was being wooed to defect to the ruling Cambodian People's Party.
Three other provincial SRP officials, who have all fled and are in hiding, were convicted in absentia of the same charge.
"Last week's show trial was a travesty of justice that once again shows how the ruling party manipulates the courts to maintain its stranglehold on power and eliminate its opponents," said Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho.
"This case will have long-lasting consequences for democracy in Cambodia. The imprisonment of an opposition party commune chief on false criminal charges sends a chilling message to the opposition and to voters throughout the country."