Man Arrested Over Threat to Bomb Graduation

A former student at the University of South-East Asia in Siem Reap City was arrested on Monday for posting a comment on a friend’s Facebook page threatening to bomb a graduation ceremony presided over by Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

Savoeun Tao, 26, finished his studies at the school in 2013 and grew angered by repeated changes to the date for a graduation ceremony that the interior minister was to preside over, according to Phoeung Chendareth, chief of the provincial police’s minor crimes bureau.

When a friend posted a Facebook update on Saturday notifying others that a previously called-off date was back on, Mr. Tao commented that he would bomb the event, Mr. Chendareth said.

“The university director provided information yesterday and we started investigating at about midday,” he said.

“We started investigations at the school to find out who posted it and questioned him. He confessed that he posted it, so we arrested him at about 3 p.m.”

Mr. Chendareth said Mr. Kheng was scheduled to distribute certificates on Monday, but that the plan was initially called off due to bad weather. When the plan was then reinstated, he said, Mr. Tao became enraged because he had to schedule time off from his job at a hotel.

“Students shared the information, and he commented that because the schedule changed from this to that time, it was hard for him to ask permission from the owner [for time off] so he got very angry and commented on a friend’s Facebook,” Mr. Chendareth said.

According to the bureau chief, Mr. Tao wrote: “When Samdech Kralahorm [Mr. Kheng] distributes certificates, I will throw a bomb to kill everyone.”

Sien Sovanna, the rector of the University of South-East Asia, said the school’s administration notified police about the post following the graduation ceremony on Monday after monitoring social media for posts about changes to the schedule.

“We were searching our students’ Facebooks after we had the delays, because we wanted to know which students made comments about the school,” Mr. Sovanna said.

“If they made bad comments about the university, we would consider punishment or whether to not grant their certificates for not complying with internal rules of the university,” he added.

“We found [Mr. Tao’s comment] after the end of the ceremony for handing over the certificates from Samdech Kralahorm,” he said. “I’m not happy that he threatened to kill Samdech.”

“We asked them to be quiet and not use words on social media that affect the university or government,” Mr. Sovanna said. “Only a mentally ill person would write this.”

Mr. Tao is only the latest person to be arrested for making threats on Facebook in recent weeks.

Phong Seiha, a construction worker, was charged earlier this month with threatening to kill Sok Touch, a scholar tasked by the government with researching border troubles with Vietnam.

Kong Raya, a 25-year-old student at Khemarak University, was arrested in August for threatening to launch a “color revolution” in Cambodia, and is in prison awaiting trial on charges of incitement to commit a felony.

The arrests come in the wake of the launch of government initiatives to closely monitor social media.

In October, the Council of Ministers announced the creation of the “Cyber War Team” to collect information from “websites, Facebook, Twitter, Google-plus, blogs, YouTube and other media outlets.”

The government has also said that it is drafting a cybercrime law, drawing concerns from rights groups that the ruling CPP will continue ramping up its efforts to suppress dissent online.

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