Insurrection Charges for Opposition Officials

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has charged six opposition officials with insurrection and incitement to commit a felony for their alleged role in an outbreak of protest violence that saw at least six Daun Penh district security guards seriously injured on Tuesday, according to a lawyer representing the CNRP.

“The court charged them with three counts of leading an insurrection movement and incitement to commit a felony, both with aggravating circumstances,” said Meng Sopheary, a lawyer in the defense team.

She said that the court cited articles 459, leading an insurrection; 495, incitement to commit a felony; as well as 28 and 218, both under aggravated circumstances in the criminal code.

If found guilty of all charges, the group could face up to 30 years in prison.

“So far we haven’t seen a detention warrant issued by the court, so we’re not sure whether they will be sent to detention or released on bail,” said Ms. Sopheary.

Lawmakers-elect Mu Sochua, Men Sothavrin, and Keo Phirum were arrested Tuesday morning after protesters beat security guards at an opposition rally aimed at reopening the long-shuttered Freedom Park.

Ho Vann, also a lawmaker-elect, was arrested later in the day after attempting to visit the group at police headquarters. Another lawmaker-elect, Real Camerin, was arrested by police at 2 a.m. while driving through Battambang province.

Oeur Narith, an official working under Ms. Sochua in the CNRP’s public affairs department, was pulled from a car belonging to local rights group Licadho and arrested near the municipal court this morning.

Court officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but Ms. Sochua said the CNRP leaders denied the charges.

“The charges delivered against our five elected lawmakers and the CNRP activist are 100 percent unjust,” she said, speaking from the courthouse.

“I deny all these charges. We did not do anything violent or illegal. The security personnel provoked the violence and started the violence,” she said.

“They will send us to prison for sure,” she said.

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