Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court proceedings against imprisoned CNRP Poipet Commune Chief Chao Veasna are set to resume on Monday, a week after a large group of Veasna’s supporters were blocked by about 100 Military Police officers from attending a previous hearing.
Veasna has been in pretrial detention on “incitement” charges since he was arrested in February for allegedly leading an unruly protest that left the Poipet customs office and the Poipet International Border Checkpoint 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 but released soon after.
Puthy was also charged with “incitement”, while Visoth is being charged with destruction of public property.
Choung Choungy, Veasna’s lawyer, yesterday confirmed that hearings would continue on Monday. The supporters who showed up at the previous hearing included about 50 NGO representatives and Veasna’s relatives, he said.
Puthy, president of the Cambodia Informal Economy Reinforced Association, yesterday said the court interrogated Veasna, Visoth and other witnesses regarding “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.”
Incitement charges carry a punishment of six months to two years in prison under Article 495 of the Criminal Code. Intentionally damaging property belonging to another person carries the same penalty under Article 410.