Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SRP’s Sok Hour arrested




SRP’s Sok Hour arrested

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
SRP Senator Hong Sok Hour is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court by armed police on Saturday after being detained by authorities. Heng Chivoan

SRP’s Sok Hour arrested

Opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour was sent to Prey Sar prison yesterday and charged with forgery and incitement, just three days after Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly accused him of treason.

In a report filed to acting Senate President Nay Pena, Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Yet Chakrya said the Sam Rainsy Party senator had been charged under three articles of the Kingdom’s Criminal Code, which could carry a combined maximum prison sentence of 17 years.

“After examining the evidence collected, we can see that the above case involved crimes of forging a public document, using a forged public document, and incitement to cause serious unrest for social security,” Chakrya wrote.

Sok Hour went into hiding after Hun Sen, in a speech on Thursday morning, accused him of posting a “fake” section of the 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam border treaty to his Facebook page on Wednesday, and called for his “urgent” arrest.

The senator was arrested at the home of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Yon Tharo early on Saturday morning by armed police.

In a separate letter to Pena yesterday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Kor Vandy confirmed the three charges and Sok Hour’s subsequent detention in Prey Sar’s Correctional Centre 1, which he said was decided on in accordance with the law.

However, defence lawyer Choung Choungy yesterday said the action flew in the face of protections awarded to Senators under the constitution.

“It is not legal,” he said. “His detention is contrary to article 104 of the constitution, which states that senators have immunity [and] cannot be detained.”

Article 104 grants senators broad-based immunity from arrest, except in cases when the body itself approves it, or if a senator is caught red-handed in a criminal act.

Choungy said he will appeal against the court’s decision today, and attempt to secure bail by paying an undisclosed fee.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
ists gather to protest the arrest of Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour. Heng Chivoan

However, despite Senate immunity, observers yesterday said they were unsurprised by the action against Sok Hour.

“Basically, all of these charges follow the lead of what was said by Hun Sen,” said independent analyst Ou Virak.

Virak said Sok Hour had showed “really poor judgment” by posting the documents “with no basic check of whether they were real or not”, but argued that “he should be told to apologise” rather than be sent to prison.

He added that the measures against Sok Hour could be interpreted as a message from the premier that further action over the hotly contested Vietnamese border areas will not be tolerated.

“Maybe this is Hun Sen closing that chapter,” he said.

As Sok Hour was sent to pre-trial detention yesterday, CNRP president Sam Rainsy returned from a trip to France, vowing to attempt to secure the release of the senator and 14 other CNRP members currently imprisoned on “insurrection” charges.

“I came to initiate ways to make all the detainees be released.

The result I want to see is for the detainees to be released all together,” he said.

The opposition leader said he plans to meet with Hun Sen to resolve the issue, but did not reveal details of when that might be.

Despite the ongoing arrests of his members, Rainsy once again defended the so-called “culture of dialogue” between the two parties – a period of uneasy detente that has seen the opposition temper its criticism of the ruling party in recent months – arguing that it could be used to secure their release.

“Twice in the past, in July 2014 and April 2015, through the culture of dialogue, we reached a solution to the issue resulting from the arrest and detention of a number of CNRP officials and activists,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

“I hope that this time, in August 2015, a similar solution to a similar problem could also be reached.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15