SEVEN members of the Sam Rainsy Party have been arrested on suspicion of robbing a villager in Svay Rieng province’s Sambor commune, drawing accusations from the party that the arrests were politically motivated.
Meas Kheng, SRP leader for Svay Rieng province, said Monday that the seven activists were being held at Svay Rieng provincial prison for breaking into a home Wednesday night.
Police say the group stole about 15 grams of gold and wounded the owner of the home during the burglary.
“The arrest must have been connected with politics,” Meas Kheng said, “because the legal procedure for the arrest went forward very quickly. There was no investigation, no clear evidence and, especially, no arrest warrant from the court.”
Svay Rieng police Chief Prach Rim said that available evidence allowed for the quick arrests and lack of a court-issued warrant, saying: “We found an AK-type rifle hidden in a well at the house of 44-year-old suspect Pen Samorn, as well as pieces of evidence like a torch and a rope at the victim’s house.”
However, SRP Secretary General Ke Sovannroth said she was concerned about the arrests and insisted that the case be investigated more thoroughly before her members are brought to court.
“From arrests like this in the past, we’ve seen how biased the authorities can be, how they discriminate unfairly against SRP activists.”
Ke Sovannroth requested that the authorities strengthen the legal system and avoid pressing charges or making arrests without clear evidence.