Farmer Charged for Facebook Threat on PM

The grandson of a CPP village chief was provisionally charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday for threatening Prime Minister Hun Sen’s life in a Facebook message, officials said, the latest episode in a heightened campaign to police the social media platform.

Mann Som Orn, a 28-year-old farmer, was arrested Wednesday at the Srayov commune police station in Kompong Thom province’s Stung Sen City after heeding a summons to appear there, according to commune police chief Kang Sorn.

Mann Som Orn enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where he was provisionally charged on Friday over a threat against Prime Minister Hun Sen that he allegedly posted to Facebook. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Mann Som Orn enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where he was provisionally charged on Friday over a threat against Prime Minister Hun Sen that he allegedly posted to Facebook. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Officers from the Interior Ministry’s internal security department, which identified the threat and traveled to Kompong Thom to make the arrest, brought Mr. Som Orn to Phnom Penh on Thursday evening.

“He was arrested because he sent a death threat message to Samdech Hun Sen’s Facebook page,” said Sieng Sen, director of the internal security department.

“He wrote ‘Blind man, be careful, I will kill you before January 7’ and ‘Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom and Siem Reap provinces are my land,’” Mr. Sen said. “Making a death threat against anyone is bad—against the law. No matter who it happens to, it is illegal.”

Mr. Som Orn was provisionally charged yesterday with making an insult and making a death threat, punishable by a maximum of six days and two years in prison, respectively, according to Sieng Thearath, the clerk for deputy prosecutor Sieng Sok.

“The prosecutor charged him based on article 233 and 502 of the criminal code,” he said.

As he was led handcuffed into the court for questioning Friday afternoon, the suspect admitted to making the threat and appealed for clemency from the prime   minister.

“Please, Samdech, acquit me,” he said, with a frightened look on his face as he glanced at the police escorting him away. “I insulted Samdech.”

Mr. Som Orn’s Facebook account appeared to have been deactivated by Friday afternoon.

Local news ran screenshots of the threats, which were made using an account with the name Som Orn Koko, apparently commenting on a post to Mr. Hun Sen’s Facebook page.

The messages in those screenshots read: “Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom and Siem Reap provinces are my land,” “January 7 is the date of your death,” and “I insult your family.”

Mr. Sorn, the commune police chief, said that the suspect had cooperated with police and initially denied making the death threat.

“I don’t understand why he would do this because all his family work for the Cambodian People’s Party,” he said.

Mr. Som Orn’s grandfather, Pech Chea, also said that his grandson had initially denied the allegations. He said he did not believe they were true.

“I am the village chief of Mneav since 1986 and all my family work for and support the Cambodian People’s Party,” Mr. Chea said.

“The father of Som Orn is a Mneav village security guard and a group leader for the party,” he added. “In the past, [Mann Som Orn] never had any problems with or hatred for the Cambodian People’s Party, so I don’t understand why he would do this.”

On Friday night, Kompong Thom provincial police chief Chou Sam An said the suspect had been sent back to the province, where he would be held in police custody as the provincial court processed the case.

“As he was arrested in Kompong Thom, that is the procedure,” he said.

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