Monday, November 22, 2010

Four Sam Rainsy Party Local Officials Charged with Terrorists

Four local officials of Sam Rainsy Party in Kampong Thom province were charged with terrorists by Kampong Thom Provincial Court of First Instance, related to a criminal case, Number 309 signed on September 21, 2004 and Number 308 dated on September 10, 2004.

Those four people who were accused of the above criminal offense included Mr. Un Thorn, the chairman of Prasat Balaing District Council, Mr. Koy Koeun, chairman of North Kraya Communal Council, Mr. Kim Hong, Second Deputy of Kraya Commune, and Mr. Choam Cheav, North Kraya Commune Council member.

The accusation took place in 2004 when there were rumors about a group of bandits who normally attacked people at night by using syringes to pump out blood while they were sleeping. The act was known as paper tigers. At that time villagers reported to local authorities and requested assistance on the case; otherwise it would frighten all people in Prasat Balaing district, Kampong Thom province. After hearing about the issue, those four accused people reported the situation to commune authorities in a letter. As a result, the commune police accused them of spreading rumors and causing unrest. This also led to the accusation of terrorist activities. However, the court dropped it due to a lack of evidence.

Once again, on July 6, 2010 the four men were summoned to Kampong Thom Provincial Court for questioning on the same case. Reporting to news media on Friday, July 9, those SRP local officials denied the terrorism-related charges. They said it was only a political effort to decrease their reputation and popularity.

According to the investigation by CHRAC and NICFEC, the accusation was baseless and lack sufficient proof. Such charge was a threat to discourage opposition activities. On July 21, 2010 these rights organizations issued a joint statement in order to ask the court to drop its charges against these people.

Mr. Hang Chhaya, a facilitator for CHRAC, said on July 22 that these people were only expressing their concerns over the villagers’ security. They did not incite the villagers to become worried. He depicted the court charges were seen to be more politically oriented than aimed at terrorism, and such an act was the pressure to prohibit these activists from carrying out their party duty.

The statement came after Pen Sarat, Kampong Thom Court Prosecutor asserted the police had got enough evidence to charge those four activists of terrorism. They incited the villagers to have concerns over their security. The prosecutor said that the court is continuing to perform extra investigation so that they would send these four SRP officials behind bar.

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