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Supporters blocked from hearing of Poipet opposition commune chief

Community members gather outside the provincial court in Banteay Meanchey's Poipet town.
Community members gather outside the provincial court in Banteay Meanchey's Poipet town. Photo supplied

Supporters blocked from hearing of Poipet opposition commune chief

A large group of supporters of jailed Poipet opposition Commune Chief Chao Veasna were blocked by about 100 Military Police officers from entering court for a hearing yesterday.

The Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court announced it will reconvene next week for further questioning of witnesses. Veasna has been in pre-trial detention on "incitement" charges since he was arrested in February for allegedly leading an unruly protest that left the Poipet customs office badly damaged – a 2015 incident that was resurrected months prior to the country’s June commune elections. Veasna has long maintained that he was only present as an observer and did not organise the protest. Vendor Yem Visoth and NGO worker Din Puthy were also arrested and charged with "incitement" but later released.

Read more: Poipet problems shape election race

Choung Choungy, Veasna’s lawyer, confirmed that hearings would continue on Monday. Among the supporters at the courthouse yesterday, he said, were about 50 NGO representatives and Veasna’s relatives.

Puthy, who works with the Cambodia Informal Economy Reinforced Association, yesterday said the court interrogated Veasna, Visoth and other witnesses regarding the “incitement to commit a crime and collusion to [cause] intentional damage”.

“I hope that the court will work based on the law and drop the charges because I have not committed [a crime], nor was I involved in the case as accused by the court,” Puthy said. “I hope that I will get justice.”

Updates to come.

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