CNRP Councilor Arrested Over Alleged Role in July Street Brawl

A CNRP councilor in Chbar Ampov district is being held in Prey Sar prison after being arrested by police Monday for his alleged role in an opposition protest in July that turned violent, according to police.

Soum Vuthy became the 12th CNRP official to be detained in Prey Sar in the aftermath of the July 15 protest to “Free the Freedom Park,” which turned bloody after opposition protesters viciously retaliated against uniformed security guards deployed to break up the demonstration.

“Police just implemented the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s warrant ordering to bring him to court, so we sent him straight to the courthouse,” Chuon Narin, deputy municipal police chief, said of Mr. Vuthy’s arrest.

“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court already decided to detain him temporarily in prison,” he added.

Investigating Judge Keo Mony could not be reached for comment and it remained unclear what charges have been laid against Mr. Vuthy.

On the day of the protest, CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, who had been leading a campaign for authorities to open Freedom Park, was arrested along with three other lawmakers. In the days following, Ms. Sochua’s assistant and three more lawmakers were arrested.

All eight were charged with leading an insurrection and incitement to commit a felony, crimes that carry jail terms of up to 30 years. But they were released from prison hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP President Sam Rainsy struck an agreement to end the opposition’s boycott of parliament on July 22.

Contacted Monday, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the arrest of Mr. Vuthy was politically motivated.

“The accusation delivered against him is involved with incident on July 15,” Mr Sovann said. “That incident was a political issue, not a criminal act.”

Also this week, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hear the cases against three CNRP Youth activists who were arrested on August 2 in connection with the July 15 brawl, according to Sam Sokhong, a lawyer for the activists.

The trio was charged with participating in an insurrection and intentional violence before being released from prison on August 22.

Khin Chamroeun, head of the CNRP’s Phnom Penh Youth, has been summoned to appear today; San Kimheng, a treasurer for the CNRP Youth in Meanchey district, is due to appear Wednesday and Neang Sokhun, a CNRP Youth leader from Tuol Kok district, has been called to court on Thursday.

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