Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Monk, KPPM charged with treason

Monk, KPPM charged with treason

Loun Sovath documents the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Boeung Kak Lake eviction
Loun Sovath documents the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Boeung Kak Lake eviction, where puppets representing government officials were burned. Vireak Mai

Monk, KPPM charged with treason

Activist monk Loun Sovath and members of Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM), which has been branded a terrorist group by Prime Minister Hun Sen, have been summonsed to stand trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court later this month on charges of treason and obstructing electoral procedures, attorney Sok Sam Oeun said yesterday.

The treason hearing had been rescheduled from its original September 18 date.

KPPM leader Cambodian-American Sourn Serey Ratha, two KPPM members and a civilian are accused of allegedly distributing T-shirts with slogans urging Cambodians not to vote and handing out yellow roses with leaflets that allegedly incited violence around last year’s national elections, Sam Oeun said.

Sovath, however, was uncertain yesterday as to why he is being tried.

“I’m not guilty of anything that they’re accusing me of,” Sovath said. “I only use meditation, compassion and nonviolence … and I think this is just the court of Cambodia not being neutral.”

Sovath added that appearing alongside KPPM members, with whom he has no affiliation, was damaging to his name.

“Whatever I do is my independent activity, and they are violating my name, because I have nothing to do with KPPM or any political group,” he said.

The human rights advocate met Serey Ratha once in the US in 2011 and says he didn’t agree with the KPPM leader’s ideologies.

According to Sam Oeun, this is the first time a Buddhist monk has been summonsed to a court trial in Cambodia.

“In Buddhist belief, only Buddhist monks can try other monks, unless he’s defrocked before he appears in court,” he said.

But Sovath said he will appear in court despite the threat of being defrocked.

Sovath will be represented by lawyers from NGOs Licadho and CLEC.

Municipal court prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the

  • Soaring global fuel prices: an opportunity for Cambodia?

    Cambodia is feeling the squeeze from the soaring global coal and oil prices. Electricity du Cambodge (EDC)would certainly be hurting from this reality, and most likely re-assessing its plans to add more coal power stations. EDC buys half of Cambodia’s electricity from plants

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when