Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Old Veng Sreng case revived for NEC member

Old Veng Sreng case revived for NEC member

Rong Chhun speaks with reporters outside the court in 2014 when he was first charged over the Veng Sreng riots.
Rong Chhun speaks with reporters outside the court in 2014 when he was first charged over the Veng Sreng riots. Heng Chivoan

Old Veng Sreng case revived for NEC member

National Election Committee member Rong Chhun will become the second non-CPP-aligned NEC official to face court action in recent weeks.

According to a letter signed by Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge San Sophat on April 26, Chhun, a former union leader, will face trial for his alleged role in the Veng Sreng Boulevard wage protests in January 2014, during which security forces shot five people dead.

The former president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association was provisionally charged over the matter in November 2014, alongside at least four other people, including union leaders Ath Thorn, Pav Sina, Chea Mony and Yang Sophorn; however, the case has not progressed until now.

The group was placed under court supervision on charges of intentional violence, property damage, threats to cause damage and obstructing traffic.

The case’s revival comes amid a slew of recent arrests and charges over an alleged affair by CNRP leader Kem Sokha. Among those detained awaiting trial is Ny Chakrya, NEC deputy secretary and a former senior official at rights-group Adhoc.

Critics have accused the ruling CPP of trying to sideline its political opponents and critics ahead of coming elections.

Via email from France, CNRP president Sam Rainsy said it appeared the CPP was determined to break the new NEC to avoid “credible elections”.

“They shamelessly want to cling to power at any cost. All concerned institutions and persons with a sense of decency must immediately react,” Rainsy said.

Under a 2014 deal to resolve the disputed 2013 elections, the NEC was overhauled and made bipartisan. Chhun was among four members appointed by the CNRP alongside four from the CPP and “neutral” member Hang Puthea, a former election monitor who yesterday declined to comment.

Reached yesterday, Chhun rejected any wrongdoing during the protests and said the timing of his case was suspicious.

“The forwarding of this case is consistent with the current hot situation,” Chhun said. “This case has been ongoing since 2014.”

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union; Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers; and Chea Mony, head of the Free Trade Union, had not yet received letters about the case. Cambodian Alliance Trade Unions president Yang Sophorn could not be reached.

The head of election monitoring group Comfrel, Koul Panha, said the latest development was cause for serious concern.

He noted that Article 13 of the law that established the new NEC expressly states that its members should be free from fear and intimidation.

“This is severely concerning,” Panha said.

“Both parties sat in the National Assembly and agreed to work towards a better election … If they don’t implement that agreement it will affect the confidence of the people.”

But CPP spokesman Sous Yara rejected the suggestion the case was politically motivated.

“Where’s the evidence?” he asked.

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • PM orders immediate action against ‘sexy’ live streamers

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered immediate action against women who live stream their sales pitches on Facebook wearing revealing clothing. The prime minister said the practice erodes traditional Cambodian values and disgraces women. Hun Sen gave the order to officials attending the Cambodian

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency