Man Detained for Criticizing Police Commander on Facebook

A 23-year-old marketing manager for mobile operator Cellcard was briefly detained Wednesday in Stung Treng province after he posted a photograph of the provincial military police commander to his Facebook page along with comments claiming that the officer was a foul-mouthed extortionist.

Colonel Ieng Vandy, the provincial military police commander, said that Cheth Sovichet, who posted the critical remarks about him on Facebook, was not charged by the provincial court because he had promised to publicly apologize for the comments.

“It is defamation and disinformation which affects my dignity because I have done nothing wrong and I come to serve the people,” Col. Vandy said.

“In fact, we are required to send him to court, but he admitted his mistake so we released him today,” he added.

Along with a photograph of Col. Vandy wearing a black military police beret, Mr. Sovichet wrote on Facebook that the military police chief “comes to collect money and uses the words of a market boy,” a Khmer expression that refers to someone who uses crude language.

Col. Vandy, Mr. Sovichet continues, “is not supposed to have a high position. His speech is lower than dirty. Please get out from this province. I heard [military police] in Stung Treng province have confiscated unregistered motorbikes and released them in exchange for $200.”

Photographs of Mr. Sovichet taken after he was detained and posted to local news websites show him sitting with his head bowed as he is lectured by officers at the provincial military police headquarters.

By Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Sovichet’s critical comments had been removed from his Facebook page and an apology had been posted.

“With this status I want to say a word of apology to Colonel Ieng Vandy, military police commander in Stung Treng province, that I have made a mistake toward him by using bad words about him,” Mr. Sovichet wrote.

“I promise I will not do anything to impact him anymore or other people from now on,” the post says.

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