A reporter for the Cochinchine Newspaper in Siem Reap province is in jail after he was arrested April 9 on charges of defamation, the newspaper’s editor said Sunday.
Editor Yan Sidara said the reporter, Teng Mara, 53, had confused the spelling of the name of a vendor mentioned in one of his stories, and for that, the court ordered his arrest.
The story was about a dispute between Kab Sa Om, deputy penal police chief of Siem Reap province, and vendors of the Toek Veal market in the province’s Puok district, Yan Sidara said. He said the charges against the reporter were exaggerated because the article angered powerful officials.
“It was a small mistake,” the editor said, alleging that his colleague was arrested “in order to warn our newspaper not to write news stories about the dispute.” He said Teng Mara is still in jail.
Ang Neardey, the investigating judge, and Ou Em, Siem Reap provincial penal police chief, both confirmed the arrest and the charge but would not elaborate.
The Khmer Journalists for Democracy Association is planning to send a petition today advocating for Teng Mara’s release to local human rights groups, the King’s Cabinet, the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Justice and Interior ministries, said Sok Sovan, deputy chief of the association.
Sok Sovan added that the association will file a complaint with the Appeals Court, alleging that the investigating judge violated Teng Mara’s individual rights by ordering his arrest.