Man to Stand Trial for Alleged Hun Sen Threats

A 27-year-old man is facing up to five years in prison after being charged over a Facebook post that allegedly threatened the life of Prime Minister Hun Sen in an attempt to incite violence against the premier, officials said on Sunday.

Those investigating the case declined to say what the offending post said.

Sam Pheap is photographed by police after his arrest. (Fresh News)
Sam Pheap is photographed by police after his arrest. (Fresh News)

Sam Pheap, who often worked in Thailand, was arrested on Thursday while visiting his family in Prey Veng province and brought to the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh for questioning before being sent to the municipal court.

“We have charged Sam Pheap with making a death threat…and incitement to commit an offense,” Kong Samsareth, a deputy prosecutor at the court, said on Sunday. “Investigating Judge Kor Vandy has decided to place him in prison.”

Making a death threat carried a sentence of six months to two years, while incitement to commit violence carries a sentence of one to three years. The crimes carry a combined fine of 3 million to 10 million riel, or about $750 to $2,500.

Judge Vandy confirmed on Sunday that he had sent Mr. Pheap to Prey Sar prison, but declined to comment further on the case.

Pav Bou, the chief of Boeng Chor village, where the man’s family lives, said Mr. Pheap was rarely seen in the area.

“I almost never saw him because he went abroad. I only heard that he was arrested.” he said. “He went to work, but then he caused problems for himself.”

Mr. Bou said that the migrant worker had three sisters and a twin brother. “His family is poor,” he said.

According to the online Fresh News service, Mr. Pheap said after being taken into police custody that he was well-aware of why he had been arrested.

“I know I did not traffic drugs,” he is quoted as saying. “The arrest is for insulting the government.”

Mr. Pheap is the latest social media user to be jailed over posts that have drawn the ire of the ruling party, in what some say is a campaign to quell dissent among a rapidly expanding community of Cambodian internet users.

Others have been jailed for calling for a color revolution, threatening violence against government officials and claiming that Mr. Hun Sen had died. An opposition senator and National Assembly member are in prison for Facebook posts accusing the government of ceding land to Vietnam, while CNRP President Sam Rainsy is facing various criminal cases—mostly for defamation—over posts to Facebook.

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