Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man still held despite not making Facebook threat



Man still held despite not making Facebook threat

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Pich Roth Tha was arrested and questioned by authorities earlier this month for allegedly threatening to shoot Prime Minister Hun Sen in a Facebook post. Photo supplied

Man still held despite not making Facebook threat

Despite not being considered a criminal suspect, the owner of a Facebook page allegedly used to make threats against Prime Minister Hun Sen remains in custody for questioning, in apparent violation of Cambodian law.

Last Wednesday, Preah Sihanouk province casino driver Pich Roth Tha’s Facebook account featured a selfie next to a picture of a handgun along with an explicit threat for the Prime Minister: “Hun Sen, you kill too many Khmer [people], it will not be long before you will be dead by my hand.” A second post announced Roth Tha’s intention to shoot Hun Sen in the head.

The following morning, Roth Tha turned himself in to provincial police, claiming that an unknown person hacked his Facebook account to post the threatening comments. Provincial police transferred him to the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Terrorism Department for questioning later that day.

Death threats against high-ranking officials have drawn prosecutions in the past, but officials yesterday said that Roth Tha was no longer being considered as a suspect, but was nonetheless being held.

“We are still investigating it and there is no information [that we released him],” said chief of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Terrorism Department Y Sokhy on Tuesday evening, denying the veracity of local media reports early this week that announced Roth Tha had been freed.

“Now we see he did not post any bad words on his account, someone else [who was] using his account posted on his behalf,” said National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith yesterday. “He is still at the Ministry of Interior [and] we will allow him to return home when we find the offender.”

Chantharith said the real offender would be sent to court, and hung up before clarifying precisely what charges the culprit would face.

According to legal expert Sok Sam Ouen, under Cambodian law, police can only detain a suspect without charge for 48 hours for a misdemeanor, or 72 hours for a felony. Roth Tha has been in custody for a week.

“If the ministry said his account was hacked, it’s clear he didn’t commit that crime. He is innocent in that regard and should be allowed to return home,” said Cambodian Center for Human Rights Advocacy Director Piseth Duch. “[Roth Tha] can still cooperate with the authorities when he is free.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he