Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Shoe thrower’, extradited after seeking refuge in Thailand, gets two-year jail sentence



‘Shoe thrower’, extradited after seeking refuge in Thailand, gets two-year jail sentence

Sam Sokha enters the Kampong Speu Provincial Court on Thursday, where she was sentenced to two years for incitement and insult for throwing a shoe at a CPP billboard in last year. Licadho
Sam Sokha enters the Kampong Speu Provincial Court on Thursday, where she was sentenced to two years for incitement and insult for throwing a shoe at a CPP billboard in last year. Licadho

‘Shoe thrower’, extradited after seeking refuge in Thailand, gets two-year jail sentence

Extradited refugee Sam Sokha was sentenced on Thursday by the Kampong Speu Provincial Court to two years in jail for throwing a shoe at a CPP billboard, months after she was convicted in absentia shortly before her deportation from Thailand.

Sokha posted a video on Facebook last April showing her throwing a sandal twice at a ruling party billboard in Preah Sihanouk province. After authorities announced they were seeking her arrest, she then fled to Thailand and was recognised by the UN as a refugee.

However, she was arrested by Thai officials in January and following a January 25 trial at Kampong Speu Provincial Court, Sokha was convicted in absentia of “incitement to discriminate” and “insulting a public official” and handed a two-year sentence and 5 million riel ($1,250) fine. She was deported back to Cambodia on February 8.

The court held a retrial on March 15 and announced the verdict on Thursday, upholding the same sentence, said Licadho provincial coordinator Khon Khoy. He said the trial was held in the absence of the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s lawyer and Sokha’s lawyer.

“I heard the name of the complainant was Lim Sarin, but we don’t know who he is,” he said.

Read more: How a small act of protest led to big problems

Khoy said Sokha admitted her guilt in court, hoping her confession would her result in some leniency.

“In the hearing, the accused said she regretted her deed and wanted the authorities and Samdech [Hun Sen] to pardon her. Her families also asked for that. But finally, the court did not agree,” Khoy said.

Presiding Judge Uk Retkunthea and Prosecutor Ou Phat could not be reached on Thursday.

Un Chanthol, Sokha’s lawyer, said he wasn’t present at the court and had heard conflicting reports about the 5 million riel fine, though he confirmed the conviction.

Amnesty International said the conviction was another “chilling example” of the Hun Sen government’s monitoring of Cambodians abroad and was being used to “silence or scare others also voicing their criticism” of the administration.

“Sam Sokha’s case is also a chilling example that Hun Sen is making good on his threats that he is ‘watching’ Cambodians abroad who voice dissent against the authorities,” said Amnesty spokesman Olof Blomqvist.

He added that increased cooperation among Asean countries in the area of surveillance did not bode well for dissenting voices in the region. “The threat of illegal deportation in the region – back to countries where activists could face jail on trumped up charges – is clearly very real.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there