A day after Prime Minister Hun Sen called for more arrests over anti-government protests that turned violent in July last year, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday summonsed five more activists over the alleged “insurrection” in Freedom Park.
Speaking last night, Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Keo Mony confirmed five activists had been summonsed based on video evidence.
He declined to reveal their identities.
Last month, 11 opposition activists were found guilty on “insurrection” charges over the protests and sentenced to between seven and 20 years in prison.
On Monday, Hun Sen announced he had instructed National Police chief Neth Savoeun and Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong to pursue and arrest more protesters involved in the demonstrations, which left 39 security personnel and at least six protesters injured.
“Do not use political issues to eliminate criminal problems,” Hun Sen warned the Cambodia National Rescue Party, before cautioning seven opposition lawmakers also charged over the protest that they must heed any fresh summonses.
The premier specifically singled out a woman among the protesters for arrest.
“In among the cruel attackers there was a woman who kicked like she was wrestling. Go arrest that animal,” he said.
Responding last night, Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Ou Chanrith said the summons proved the judiciary lacked any independence from the ruling party.
“Hun Sen gives an order, and then the court issues the summons,” he said. “It shows the court is not independent and these charges are politically motivated.”
However, government spokesman Phay Siphan denied Hun Sen had influenced the judiciary.
“I think we have to make sure that everything is under the rule of law. People have to be held accountable,” he said.
“Let’s put it this way…the court has to go on due process [before charging]. This is just a questioning.”