Two Cambodia Daily journalists accused of incitement and violating voters’ rights for asking questions in advance of Sunday’s commune elections in Ratanakkiri province will likely be summoned for questioning after Election Day, a provincial court prosecutor said.
The announcement comes two days after a deputy court prosecutor said a complaint with the court had been rejected due to lack of evidence and handed to the provincial election committee (PEC), which said it lacked jurisdiction.
Yesterday, however, court prosecutor Chea Pich said the court would likely question Zsombor Peter, an associate editor from Canada, and Aun Pheap, a Cambodian reporter, along with the plaintiffs and witnesses.
“I sent the complaint to the PEC, but the PEC said that it was outside of its jurisdiction because it involves legal issues,” Mr. Pich said. “The complaint was sent back to the court and the court listed it as a criminal case. We are ready to summon each party involved after the commune elections.”
In the complaint dated May 22, three men—villager Sev Born, area man Rocham Yi and Romam Yuot, Pate commune’s Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) commune chief—accused the reporters of “inciting to support [the] opposition party” and “violating our right of self-determination” while interviewing them on voting patterns in 2012.
Pate was the only commune in the province to elect an opposition commune chief five years ago. In January, Chhay Thy, former provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc and a government critic, defected to the ruling CPP. A separate complaint against the journalists made by the same three men to the commune election committee last week was dropped previously.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith caused controversy last week when he posted a copy of Mr. Peter’s passport on his Facebook page, warning the media to abide by election laws despite there being no clear evidence that the journalists had violated any laws. He has since deleted the post and ignored requests for comment.