Human Rights Advocate Summoned Over Defamation Charges

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court attempted to summon prominent human rights activist Ny Chakrya on Wednesday for questioning over charges of defamation and coercing judicial officials, but found only his wife at home.

The court and Mr. Chakrya, the head of monitoring for rights group Adhoc, are of different minds over whether he is now obliged to heed the summons.

The charges, which also include malicious denunciation, stem from public comments Mr. Chakrya made in May that a judge and a prosecutor had unlawfully arrested and imprisoned two farmers feuding with an agriculture firm near their village in Siem Reap province.

Mr. Chakrya was first questioned by the court over the allegations on July 13 and was charged hours later. The summons authorities attempt to deliver on Wednesday was the first time since then that he has been called to court.

But the rights advocate, who denies any wrongdoing, said Thursday that he was not at home when police arrived with the letter. He said he told his wife over the telephone not to accept it, and to tell the police to deliver it to his office instead.

“I asked the police to take the summons back to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and to please send it to the Adhoc office, because this case involves the association,” he said. “If I receive the summons officially, I will go to answer the court’s questions.”

However, Investigating Judge Veng Hourt, who issued the summons, said the rights advocate should consider the summons served.

“If he has heard about the summons, he should go to the court to give answers,” he said.

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