Court To Drop Khmer Front Party Charges

The Municipal Court will drop charges against two Khmer Front Party leaders as requested last week by King Norodom Siha­nouk, Investigating Judge Tan Senarong said Monday.

The two were summoned to court on accusations that party members roughed up police officers who violently quashed the party’s small anti-CPP demonstration Aug 31 in the capital.

The King asked that they re­ceive clemency in a letter dated Thursday and sent to Prime Min­ister Hun Sen from Pyongyang.

On Monday, Tan Senarong questioned deputy party Presi­dent Sun Sokunmealea.

He later told reporters he will drop charg­es against her and party Presi­dent Suth Dina, who was questioned last week.

“I have to respect the King’s wish­­es. I cannot go against them,” the judge said. He said he will confer with Prosecutor Yet Chakriya about dropping the charges.

“I will take some time” to do that, he said.

After the judge’s announcement, a defiant Sun Sokunmealea said she wanted to go to trial to prove her innocence. “I appeal to the judge to finish the case. We did not cause any in­jury, we were afraid of the police,” she said.

According to Suth Dina, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema and police have claimed that protesters broke the leg of one officer and smashed the wristwatch of another during the protest against Vietnamese encroachment and the CPP’s victory in the July 27 polls.

The demonstration was one of very few since the municipality cracked down on public gatherings nearly a year ago.

Police with electric batons and truncheons beat and chased the group of about 25 demonstrators, leaving at least one protester with a gash on his head.

Nearly 20 protesters were trucked to police headquarters for questioning.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Monday the protesters met a heavy police re­sponse because of opposition news­paper reports that they would create unrest in the city.

The almost blanket ban on peaceful protests in Phnom Penh has drawn repeated criticism from the King, from opposition and Funcinpec politicians, and from human rights groups.


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