A Phnom Penh man was sentenced to two years in prison on Thursday with a year suspended for “incitement to discriminate” after posting a Facebook video rant in which he launched a tirade against the Cambodian people.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed down the sentence to Yin Heng, who caused a furore with the video, earning the nickname “Champei Khmao” or the “Black Frangipani”, and fined him three million riel ($750).
Judge Mao Sina read the verdict before the court, saying that after careful review of the case, Heng had been found guilty as charged by the investigating judge.
The trial was heard on June 4.
“The court sentences Yin Heng to two years in prison for incitement to discriminate under Article 496 of the Criminal Code and fines him three million riel to be paid into the national budget."
“The court orders him to serve one year in prison, while the remaining year will be suspended,” Judge Sina said.
Heng told the judge he accepted the decision.
“I am willing to accept the court’s verdict and, after leaving prison, I will not commit the crime again,” Heng said.
Heng had been riding his motorbike in front of the Royal Palace on February 4 when one of three men following him on another motorbike punched him several times on the top of the head.
Immediately afterwards, Heng posted on Facebook a video of himself, with the palace in the background and a bump on his head, denigrating all Cambodian people in an inflammatory rant that subsequently went viral.
He posted another video the following day apologising to Cambodians.
“After further thinking, I know I was wrong to use degrading language about Cambodia and Cambodian people,” he said.
Facebook users who shared the videos said insulting the Khmer race is equivalent to insulting Cambodian people and the country in general.
Heng was arrested on the evening of February 5 in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district. He was charged under articles 494 and 496 of the Criminal Code.
Article 496 describes incitement to discriminate as: “The direct incitement to discriminate, to be malicious or violent against a person or a group of persons because of their membership or non-membership of a particular ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.”
The offence is punishable by imprisonment of between one and three years and a fine of between two and six million riel.