Election Official Sentenced to Six Months for Criticizing Court

Ny Chakrya, a senior election official and the former head of monitoring for rights group Adhoc, was sentenced to six months in prison on Thursday — the latest in a slew of court decisions widely believed to be politically motivated.

Mr. Chakrya, who was appointed deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee (NEC) in January, is also facing charges related to the prosecution of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha. He had been seen as a counterbalance to the CPP leadership of the NEC ahead of upcoming elections.

Ny Chakrya enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday morning. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Ny Chakrya enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday morning. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Chakrya was found guilty on Thursday morning of “malicious denunciation” and “publication of commentaries intended to unlawfully coerce judicial authorities” related to comments critical of a prosecutor and judge at the Siem Reap Provincial Court.

The case was heard by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, and the decision was handed down by Presiding Judge Khy Chhay, who also fined Mr. Chakrya 6 million riel, or about $1,500.

Mr. Chakrya made the offending statements on May 12 and 20 last year, during news conferences denouncing the imprisonment of two Siem Reap farmers convicted of illegally clearing land in Varin district. Mr. Chakrya argued at the time that Siem Reap court deputy prosecutor Sok Keobandith and Investigating Judge Ky Rithy had improperly handled the farmers’ case and wrongly convicted them.

After the verdict came down on Thursday, Mr. Chakrya told reporters that he planned to appeal.

“We are hopeless to get justice when the institution of the court is unjust,” he said as he was escorted from the courtroom.

Mr. Chakrya, along with four senior Adhoc officers, was being held in provisional detention for his alleged involvement in bribing a mistress of Mr. Sokha to deny the affair during questioning in the “prostitution” case.

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