A current and former member of the Bavet City council were on Friday charged over a doctored birth certificate posted to Facebook that says Svay Rieng province is in Vietnam, according to officials, a day after the Interior Ministry announced that it was investigating a similar document.
Norng Sarith, the current city councilor, and Sok Sam Ean, who lost his seat on the council in the last election, were arrested on Thursday for allegedly posting a falsified birth certificate to Mr. Sam Ean’s Facebook page in the name of Nhem Chhoeun, officials said.
The individual’s birthplace is listed as “Tapov village, Bavet commune, Chantra district, Svay Rieng province, Vietnam.”
The pair were charged at the Svay Rieng Provincial Court on Friday and returned to the custody of provincial police for further questioning, according to Sam Sarun, a deputy prosecutor at the court.
“The court has charged Norng Sarith, 42, with forging a public document and Sok Sam Ean, 38, with incitement to commit a felony,” he said.
Bavet City police chief Keo Kong confirmed the arrests but declined to comment on the case, referring questions to an officer in the provincial police’s minor crimes bureau for whom he provided a contact number but no name.
A man who answered the number confirmed that he was from the minor crimes bureau but also declined to give his name, saying he was not authorized to speak to the media.
He said Mr. Sarith and Mr. Sam Ean were both members of the opposition CNRP.
“Norng Sarith has confessed to forging a public document,” the man said, adding that the councilor had so far refused to explain his motivations for creating the fake birth certificate.
“Sok Sam Ean has confessed to taking this document and posting it on his Facebook page,” he said.
“He wanted to get attention from the public,” he added without elaborating.
In a statement on Thursday, the Interior Ministry’s identification department announced that it was searching for the person responsible for posting a doctored birth certificate to a Facebook page in the name of Suth Kong, which lists the birthplace as “Kirivong district, Takeo province (Vietnam).”