An opposition CNRP organizer who last month distributed leaflets warning of Vietnamese efforts to destroy Cambodia was on Monday fined about $750 by the Takeo Provincial Court for inciting racial discrimination and set free, an official said.
Chhea Tang Sorn, the 64-year-old deputy head of the CNRP’s Prey Kabbas district executive committee, was arrested Saturday after police learned he distributed the leaflets during an August 29 visit by Acting CNRP President Pol Ham.
Held for questioning over the weekend, Mr. Tang Sorn was sent to the provincial court Monday.
“The court fined him three million riel [about $750] and released him,” said Chhun Sareth, the provincial internal security police chief, after the court handed down the decision.
Officials at the court could not be reached. However, Mr. Tang Sorn’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, confirmed that his client was fined for breaking a law against discrimination.
“We asked the court to drop the charge but the court insisted on punishing him with 3 million riel [as a fine] for his crime,” he said.
Mr. Sokong said he was pleased his client was not jailed but that it was unfair that he was given such a hefty fine for printing information he found on Facebook. The leaflets Mr. Tang Sorn distributed said that the Vietnamese were trying to destroy Cambodia by poisoning the food supply and also by buying off officials with money and women.
“Although the court only fined him, it shows he committed a crime, but he did not have the intention to incite discrimination,” Mr. Sokong said.
After he was released from custody, Mr. Tang Sorn said that the fine handed down to him for making the leaflet was unfair.
“This is not justice for me because I did not incite anybody, I just took [the leaflet] and kept it in my documents, and if anybody wanted it, they could have it,” he said.
“The decision was made to break the spirit of people who love and care about the nation.”