Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rowdy crowd cause court closure



Rowdy crowd cause court closure

Rowdy crowd cause court closure

T HE trial of Khmer newspaper editor Thun Bunly - his second trip to court in

three months - was abruptly adjourned last week because of rowdiness in the

courtroom.

Bunly, of Oudamkati Khmer (Khmer Ideal) newspaper, has been

charged with disinformation under Article 62 of the UNTAC criminal

code.

The charge relates to seven articles published this year which,

among other things, accused the government of using tyrannical power, called on

Second Prime Minister Hun Sen to relinquish power to the King and described Hun

Sen's face as being "thicker than the blade of an ax".

Bunly maintains

the articles represented his opinions, which he was legally allowed to

express.

The courtroom at Phnom Penh Municipal Court was packed with

journalists and human rights workers when he appeared for trial Aug

16.

Policemen were kept busy trying to maintain order, as Khmer

journalists and photographers moved around the room. At one point, a journalist

stuck his camera within half a meter of the face of Chief Judge Oum Sarith,

before being pushed back by a policeman.

When the judge challenged Bunly

to prove the claims in his articles, the editor repeatedly replied: "They were

not news stories, but my opinion, editorials. I can tell you no more than

this."

He added: "Journalists must write like this [to express their

opinion]. No need to be a journalist if we just write to uphold the testicles of

others. The country will be ruined."

Some journalists present, apparently

colleagues of Bunly, welcomed his comment with applause, prompting the judge to

ask the prosecutor to adjourn the trial.

The trial was later scheduled

to resume on Monday, Aug 28.

Bunly's defender, Ang Eng Thong from the

ADHOC human rights group, said his defense was based on Article 41 of the

constitution, which protected the expression of opinions.

However,

Minister of Information Ieng Mouly said: "There would have been nothing wrong if

[Bunly] had published the truth. We saw no truth in those articles and we want

him to explain."

Bunly had not been charged under the government's new

press law, which allows journalists to be fined for disinformation, because it

had not yet taken effect.

Mouly said the press law was signed by both

Prime Ministers on Aug 18 and would be forwarded to King Norodom Sihanouk to

ratify it.

Bunly was last in court in May, when he was fined 5 million

riels ($2,000) under the UNTAC law for defaming the Prime Ministers. He is

appealing that conviction.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Lost in translation: ‘Starvation’ in capital’s designated red zones

    “DACH bay” is a Khmer slang meaning a “loss of income”, that could also be literally translated to «deprived of rice”, which alludes to starvation. However, civil society organisation (CSO) officials have independently confirmed the government’s prior assertions that there are no cases of