The family of a man jailed last month for knocking down two Cambodian People’s Party signs and taking a national flag in Kampong Cham province yesterday urged the local court and rights groups to help bail him out, saying he is mentally ill.
Meas Sam Ath, a member of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was arrested on August 25 in O’Reang-ou district’s Mien commune, his brother Meas Boeun, 60, said.
“We know he was wrong, but the signboard was not damaged. My brother does not have as good a mental state as other people,” he said. “He’s like a madman.”
Boeun added Sam Ath was the victim of a roof collapse years ago when he was helping authorities build a military barracks. The accident had affected his mental functions and memory.
An Phin, a provincial investigator for rights groups Adhoc, said he had visited Sam Ath in prison and found him difficult to communicate with.
“I asked why he was arrested, and he began talking about the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front,” he said. “We’re asking our office in Phnom Penh to provide a lawyer for his family.”
The chief of Thma Krochum village, a CPP member, filed a complaint to police about the incident, Phin said. Neither he nor his counterpart in Soy village, where the other sign was torn down, could be reached.
Muong Sam Ath, head of Kampong Cham prison, said he was not aware Sam Ath was mentally ill.
“If he really has a problem, his family can write to me so I can have him sent to the provincial hospital,” he said.
If a medical certificate was issued, it could be used as part of a bail request, he added.