Barber jailed for in­sult­ing King

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Kim Sarom

THE Siem Reap pro­vin­cial court sen­tenced a 70-year-old barber to a year in prison un­der the lèse ma­jesté law for a Face­book post in­sult­ing King Norodom Si­ha­moni. Court spokesman Yin Srang, told The Post yes­ter­day that the ac­cused is Ban Sam­phy, 70, a Pon­leu Preah Phos vil­lager, from Kam­pong Kdei com­mune, in the prov­ince’s Chikraeng dis­trict.

“He was sen­tenced to a year in prison by judge Um Chan­thol, but will serve [a re­duced sen­tence of only] seven months,” he said.

Pro­vin­cial po­lice found Sam­phy’s Face­book ac­count on May 13 with the shared pic­ture of Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen and his wife, first lady Bun Rany, and a pic­ture of King Si­ha­moni in a car.

There was also a video clip of vil­lagers af­fected by flood­ing who were an­gry that the au­thor­i­ties had re­stricted their move­ments.

In­cluded was the in­sult, which com­pared the King un­favourably to Cam­bo­dia’s for­mer kings.

‘No de­fence’

Ar­ti­cle 437 of the Crim­i­nal Code for “in­sult­ing the King” says that “the use of words, ges­tures, writ­ings, sketches or ob­jects which un­der­mine the dig­nity of a per­son con­sti­tutes an in­sult.

The pos­si­ble sen­tence for in­sult­ing the King ranges from one to five years in jail and a fine of be­tween $2 mil­lion ($500) and 10 mil­lion.

Records showed that the Siem Reap pro­vin­cial po­lice kept note of the post and ar­rested him on May 19 at his res­i­dence be­fore tak­ing him to the po­lice sta­tion for ques­tion­ing.

There, Sam­phy said he shared the post af­ter see­ing it on an­other Face­book ac­count be­long­ing to “Kh­mer Thatcher”.

“He con­fessed that he shared t hat post. The pic­ture he shared was for his group to see.

“He said he was angr y with the King, but agreed he was wrong to share the post.

“He said [he did so] only be­cause he was angr y,” said dis­trict po­lice chief Sok Sotheav uth.

A lawyer and spokesper­son for the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion of the King­dom of Cam­bo­dia Yim Sary said ig­no­rance of the law is no de­fence and that it wasn’t the Bar’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­form the pub­lic.

“If they want to in­sult any­one, they have to do re­search to find out if there is a law on it. They must do the re­search them­selves,” Sary said.

Three peo­ple have been ar­rested so far for in­sult­ing the King since the amend­ment to the lèse ma­jesté law.

Among them is the for­mer leader of the Cam­bo­dia Na­tional Res­cue Party, Sam Rainsy, who was sched­uled for a hear­ing on July 12 at the Ph­nom Penh Mu­nic­i­pal Court but failed to turn up.

HENG CHIVOAN

For­mer op­po­si­tion leader Sam Rainsy talks to sup­port­ers via video link in 2016. He is among thos who have been charged for in­sult­ing the King un­der the lèse ma­jesté law.

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