Defrocked Monks Questioned at Court

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday questioned three defrocked monks over charges of “joining a criminal association,” an NGO worker said.

Am Sam Ath, senior technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, said that Investigating Judge Nou Veasna questioned Soeung Hai, 28, Khit Vannak, 26, and Sang Kosal, 19, over the criminal association charge, which was laid against all three men after Mr. Vannak and Mr. Kosal carried bags of flags to a land protest on November 12.

Although Mr. Hai had been convicted of another protest-related crime the day before and was in jail on November 12, he was subsequently accused of providing the flagpoles to the other two monks.

Judge Veasna could not be reached to comment on Thursday’s hearing, but Mr. Sam Ath, who has been monitoring the case, said the charges were unjustified. “It is a revenge [charge],” he said.

“Especially against [Mr. Hai], because he is active in protesting about Kampuchea Krom and burnt a Vietnamese flag in front of Vietnam Embassy.”

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