Cam­bo­dian oppn se­na­tor jailed over Face­book post

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Cam­bo­dian op­po­si­tion se­na­tor was sen­tenced to seven years in jail yes­ter­day for post­ing a doc­tored doc­u­ment on so­cial me­dia about the con­tested bor­der with neigh­bor­ing Viet­nam. Anti-Viet­namese sen­ti­ment is strong in parts of Cam­bo­dia and is of­ten stirred up by the op­po­si­tion to un­der­mine the coun­try’s strong­man ruler Hun Sen. The courts, which crit­ics say are eas­ily bent to Hun Sen’s will, have hit back with charges and prose­cu­tions ac­cus­ing op­po­si­tion mem­bers of whip­ping up dis­sent.

Se­na­tor Hong Sok Hour was ar­rested last year, days af­ter Cam­bo­dian Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen ac­cused him of com­mit­ting trea­son by post­ing a doc­tored ver­sion of an old treaty about the bor­der on op­po­si­tion leader Sam Rainsy’s Face­book page. The ver­sion of the 36year-old treaty he posted said the two coun­tries would “dis­solve the bor­der­line”-an in­flam­ma­tory con­cept to Cam­bo­di­ans. A court yes­ter­day found the se­na­tor guilty of “fal­si­fy­ing pub­lic doc­u­ments, us­ing fake pub­lic doc­u­ments, in­cite­ment caus­ing un­rest to na­tional se­cu­rity,” Judge Ros Piseth said, sen­tenc­ing him to seven years in prison. His lawyers could not be reached im­me­di­ately for com­ment. Rainsy, who is in ex­ile in France, was also charged sep­a­rately in the case. Last month the same court sen­tenced an out­spo­ken op­po­si­tion law­maker who has crit­i­cized Hun Sen’s gov­ern­ment over its han­dling of the bor­der is­sue to two-and-a-half years in jail for post­ing al­legedly fake maps on his Face­book page. The two coun­tries have shared a testy re­la­tion­ship since Viet­nam’s troops in­vaded to oust Cam­bo­dia’s geno­ci­dal Kh­mer Rouge regime in 1979 be­fore with­draw­ing a decade later. Hun Sen, who has ruled Cam­bo­dia for three decades, is highly sen­si­tive to crit­i­cism that he is too soft on Viet­nam over the dis­puted ar­eas of the shared bor­der.

Rights groups have ac­cused Hun Sen’s ad­min­is­tra­tion of ar­rest­ing scores of crit­ics and ty­ing up other op­po­nents in le­gal cases be­fore na­tional elec­tions in 2018. The op­po­si­tion’s deputy leader Kem Sokha has been holed up for months in his of­fice, sleep­ing on a makeshift bed, to avoid ar­rest by au­thor­i­ties. He was sen­tenced to five months in jail in Septem­ber for re­fus­ing to ap­pear in court over an al­leged sex scan­dal pros­e­cu­tion that the op­po­si­tion say is po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

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