Jailed Teacher May Undergo Psychiatric Test

The teacher jailed this month for teaching his self-published anti-government textbook may have to undergo up to six months of psychiatric evaluations to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial, a court-appointed doctor said Tuesday.

Tieng Narith, who was fired in August from Phnom Penh’s Sihanouk Raja Buddhist Uni­versity, was charged Sept 6 with disinformation. The teacher, who is said to suffer mental problems, faces up to three years in prison over his profanity-laced textbook if he is found guilty.

“The test could take between two weeks and six months,” psychiatrist and Faculty of Medicine Rector Ka Sun Baunat said. “There is still a lot more questioning.”

He said he could not discuss the case in detail because this would violate his patient’s confidentiality.

In his book, Tieng Narith links top government officials to political violence and echoes recent allegations by former municipal police chief Heng Pov.

Tieng Narith’s father Tieng Yeang, 57, said he wants the psychiatric evaluation to be completed faster and reiterated that his son is suffering from mental difficulties.

“When he is angry, there is a problem,” he said, adding that Ka Sun Baunat has contacted him for details about his son’s childhood.

British doctor Gavin Scott, of the Tropical & Travelers Medical Clinic in Phnom Penh, said that in his opinion, a psychiatric evaluation should take a week or less.

“You can do a psychiatric evaluation in an hour or you can do it in one week,” he said.

“Six months doesn’t seem reasonable.”

Cambodian Independent Teach­ers’ Association President Rong Chhun said the evaluation is taking too long and that it might be prolonged to punish Tieng Narith.

“[The test] should be three or four days or at the longest a week,” he said.

“It is only an excuse to delay the detention.”

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