Rong Chhun, a member of the Cambodia Watchdog Council (CWC) who was arrested on July 31 for allegedly inciting social chaos based on Facebook posts about border demarcation with Vietnam, told a Supreme Court judge on November 11 that his arrest was unlawful.
Chhun filed a bail request and appealed his detention at the court.
He said he owned a residence and could be easily contacted if he needed to be summoned to court again. He said he also had a decent job and promised to cooperate with the court if they needed him to testify.
Chhun, also a former member of the National Election Committee (NEC), further said he would not attempt to escape abroad, even though he holds a Canadian visa which expires next year.
“Police surrounded my house at night and they even intended to break in the door to enter. In other words, they arrested me without an arrest warrant and not during administrative hours,” he said.
Regarding his appeal of the detention warrant, Chhun told the judge that on July 20, he travelled to Trapaing Phlong commune’s Trapaing Phlong village in Tbong Khmum province’s Ponhea Kraek district. He met with 106 families, who told him they had lost 60ha to Vietnam.
Authorities should have returned the land to people for them to grow crops, Chhun said.
He said he returned home on July 21 and wrote the Facebook posts which subsequently landed him in jail.
Police arrested him at his house on July 31 and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged him with causing social chaos under articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code.
“We just do social work to contribute to society with the government. So, arresting me is nothing gainful. In contrast, the arrest has drawn criticisms from foreigners and people in the country,” he said.
Choung Choungy, one of Chhun’s lawyers, said the municipal court had charged his client with committing a flagrant crime, which he said is not correct.
Choungy argued that Chhun never removed his Facebook posts, which would indicate guilt.
“Rong Chhun’s arrest is contrary to legal proceedings and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court used police minutes as a basis to charge my client. So, the charge is also contrary to proceedings,” Choungy said.
Lor Chunthy, another of Chhun’s lawyers, said in the courtroom on November 11 that his client had not created social chaos or incited people.
After Chhun published the posts, Chunthy said, there was no chaos.
In response, however, Supreme Court prosecutor Chan Dara Rasmey concluded that the lower courts’ rejection of Chhun’s bail request was correct.
“In order to prevent future offences, we retain the charged person for the court. For the sake of social security, I would like the trial chamber to uphold the Appeal Court’s judgements,” he said.
After a nearly one hour trial, Judge Kim Sathavy said a verdict will be announced on November 25.