Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Two Sam Rainsy Party officials arrested



Two Sam Rainsy Party officials arrested

Rocks litter the ground at the Poipet Customs Department, where dozens of car and building windows were broken in 2015. Photo supplied
Rocks litter the ground at the Poipet Customs Department, where dozens of car and building windows were broken in 2015. Photo supplied

Two Sam Rainsy Party officials arrested

A Sam Rainsy Party deputy commune chief in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention yesterday after authorities seemingly resurrected a nearly two-year-old case involving a protest that turned violent.

The move came the same day that another SRP deputy commune chief was arrested in Phnom Penh for alleged forgery after reportedly giving an observer the wrong identification card during last year’s nationwide voter registration drive.

Chao Veasna, a deputy commune chief in Poipet, was charged with incitement for his alleged involvement in a 2015 protest at a customs office. Veasna has said he merely attended the protest to facilitate dialogue after protesters began hurling rocks at the office and burning car tyres.

Choung Choungy, Veasna’s attorney, said investigating judge Ek Polifil detained his client following a four-hour interrogation. Throughout the questioning, Veasna maintained his innocence, insisting that he had never encouraged violence, Choungy said, but the judge still opted to detain him, allegedly to prevent him from harassing potential witnesses.

“We will request bail for him, perhaps next week,” Choungy said. “He is not a flight risk.”

Sor Chandeth, a senator for the Sam Rainsy Party – which merged with the Human Rights Party to form the Cambodia National Rescue Party following the 2012 commune elections – said the case against Veasna is politically motivated.

Veasna is a top CNRP candidate for the upcoming commune elections, he said, and it was widely believed the popular politician could win the position of commune chief. The recent charges could derail his candidacy, however.

“The case isn’t reasonable,” Chandeth noted. “Veasna went to the scene to observe in his capacity as a member of the local authorities.”

Soum Chankea, Adhoc coordinator in Banteay Meanchey, said that he saw Veasna with other local officials when he was monitoring the 2015 protest.

“I asked [Veasna] why he was there, and he said he wanted to tell the protesters not to be violent, to prevent violence,” Chankea said.

Meanwhile, in Phnom Penh, Ly Sokun, an SRP deputy commune chief in Tuol Kork district, was also sent to pre-trial detention for allegedly forging a public document, a charge stemming from an incident in which he allegedly gave an election observer the wrong identification card.

According to Meng Sopheary, Sokun’s lawyer, on the first day of election registration in September, Sokun was put in charge of issuing ID cards for observers. During the process, he put a photograph of one observer onto an ID with another observer’s name, which Sopheary maintained was an honest mistake.

“It was just confusion. He did not mean to forge a document in his own interest,” Sopheary said, adding that the incident was already being resolved at the commune level and that they had not expected that it would be sent to court.

Sokun could face a jail sentence of between five to 10 years, she added.

Kol Phanha, executive director of Comfrel, said that the detention of opposition leaders could have a negative impact on the upcoming elections by taking away their opportunity to compete.

“No politician should be detained just because of their work,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from