The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged a person and questioned another on Thursday over their roles in commemorations marking the anniversary of the death of slain political analyst Kem Ley.
Phnom Penh municipal authorities arrested Kung Reiya, a former activist for the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party on Tuesday night for selling T-shirts featuring Ley’s photos and quotes.
Three of his family members, including his wife, were also arrested but later released after signing a contract stating they would refrain from any other related activity.
Suong Neakpaon, the vice-president of the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association, was then arrested on Wednesday for attempting to lay a wreath for Ley at the Caltex gas station in which he was killed as an attempted ceremony to mark the anniversary of his death was broken up.
Municipal court spokesman Kuch Kimlong said on Thursday that Reiya was charged by the investigating judge with inciting others to commit crimes and sent to Prey Sar prison, while Neakpaon was questioned by a prosecutor and sent to an investigating judge for further action.
It is not yet known what Neakpaon has been charged with.
“After questioning, Reiya was charged by the investigating judge with incitement to cause crime and was detained in prison, while Suong Neakpaon has been questioned,”he said.
Sam Sokong, Reiya’s lawyer, said he considered the charge an injustice.
“Reiya only intended to print the T-shirt with photos and quotes of Kem Ley for profit, he has done so since 2017 and had no problem before that. He also printed the T-shirts because he is a Kem Ley supporter and lover. It was not intended in any way to act as incitement or any political activity."
“The printing of T-shirts for profit to support his family is not a crime and it is his right to freedom of expression and does not violate any laws. So the charge is not right. If the judge releases him on bail, it is the right option,” Sokong said.
Reiya’s wife Srey Nich told The Post on Wednesday that the authorities sent her husband to the municipal court on Tuesday night and then returned him to the Phnom Penh municipal police headquarters.
“Yesterday [Tuesday] evening, he was at the Phnom Penh police headquarters. They arrested my husband accusing him of posting on Facebook to sell shirts printed with Kem Ley’s photo."
“Three other people were made to sign a contract at the Phnom Penh police headquarters and were then allowed to return home,” she said.
Soeung Sen Karuna, a spokesman for rights group Adhoc, said on Wednesday that the authorities’ actions were unlawful and violated the people’s rights to gather peacefully.
“If they are charged with any crime, we will consider sending a lawyer to defend them in accordance with the law,” he said.
In August 2015, Reiya was sentenced to one year and six months in prison on charges of incitement to commit crimes after reportedly posting on his Facebook page of his desire for a change of government in Cambodia. He was released from prison in February of 2017.