Jailed Journalist Released After King Intervenes

Siem Reap provincial authorities released jailed journalist Teng Mara on Friday, weeks after King Norodom Sihanouk issued a letter to the Ministry of Justice to intervene on his behalf.

In his letter, dated April 30, the King wrote that he was acting on an appeal by the Khmer Journal­ists for Democracy Association, which condemned the Coch­in­chine Newspaper re­port­er’s ar­rest as a violation of the country’s press law.

Teng Mara, 53, was jailed April 9 on defamation charges after reporting a dispute between Kab Sa Om, deputy penal police chief for Siem Reap province, and vendors at Toek Veal market in Puok district, his editor, Yan Sidara, said at the time.

According to Yan Sidara, the only inaccuracy in the report was the misspelled name of a vendor whom Teng Mara had interviewed.

Yan Sidara also said the defamation charge was trumped up by powerful officials as a warning to journalists to avoid that story.

Speaking by telephone Sunday, Teng Mara said he was treated well by Siem Reap prison’s 580 inmates, but was glad to be released.

“I am very happy and thank the Ministry of Information and all of the media who helped by printing many articles while I was in jail,” he said.

So Vat, Siem Reap’s chief prosecutor, said Sunday that Teng Mara’s release did not signify an end to his investigation. That would require orders from the Supreme Council of Magistracy, the nation’s highest legal body, he said.


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