Motodop Accused of Helping Spread Anti-Government Leaflets

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case of a motorcycle taxi driver accused of helping to distribute anti-government leaflets last year throughout Phnom Penh.

About 5 am on Aug 11, Hin Pis­eth allegedly picked up a female pas­senger in Daun Penh district’s Wat Phnom commune, who then spread the pamphlets while riding on the back of his motorcycle. Ac­cor­ding to a statement read by a court clerk, police found slightly more than 200 leaflets scattered around Phsar Chas, Independence Monument and Olympic Stadium.

However, the accused testified that he did not know what the wo­man was doing and claimed he ne­v­er took her near the sports comp­lex. He said he dropped off the un­known passenger in front of SRP head­quarters on Sothearos Boule­vard and was paid 5,000 riel, or about $1.25, for the trip.

“I drove her in front of the Royal Palace and Independence Monu­ment garden, but I did not know the woman threw the leaflets and I also did not drive her near Olympic Stadium,” he told the court.

Deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal did not detail the leaflet’s contents but held up one of the flyers in court. He argued Mr Piseth should be charged with incitement to discrimination, because the leaflet made an unfavorable comparison between government leaders and “the race from another cou­n­try.”

Contacted later by telephone, Mr Sophal said the leaflets contained criticisms aimed at Cambodia’s “high-ranking government officials,” before hanging up on a repo­r­ter.

Mr Piseth’s lawyer, Pich Kunth­ear­vy, said his client only concerned himself with taking his passenger to her destination, not with what she was doing.

One witness, deputy village chief Sar Samuth for Village 4 in Wat Phnom commune, said he saw the woman throwing out the pamphlets but did not know if Mr Pis­eth was driving the motorcycle.  Another witness, fellow motodop Oum Bunthan, said Mr Piseth told him he took the passenger but he never saw the pair driving.

Judge Chaing Sinat said the verdict would be announced March 17.


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