SRP Members Deny Allegations of Terrorism in Kompong Thom

Opposition SRP members summoned to the Kompong Thom provincial court on Tuesday for questioning over terrorism allegations dating back to 2004, denied the claims yesterday and said they were victims of a political effort to lessen their popularity.

“The police, authorities and courts have colluded to use an old case that is not really a real case,” said SRP spokesman Yim Sovann, speaking at a press conference at opposition party headquarters in Phnom Penh. “It is ridiculous. It is a political issue. It threatens and scares.”

Prasat Balaing district council member Ouk Than, Kraya deputy commune chief Kim Hong and SRP members Koy Koeun and Chaom Cheav were investigated for alleged terrorist activities in 2004 after residents were allegedly disturbed by rumors about a gang of bandits who attacked people with syringes while they slept – an act known as “paper tigers.”

After hearing about the alleged attacks, the four men reported the situation to commune authorities in a letter, which resulted in commune police accusing the four men of spreading rumors and causing unrest.

The case was adjourned in 2004 for a lack of evidence.

Mr Sovann added that yesterday’s press conference was held in order to show the international community just how threatening the ruling party could be when seeking more power.

“I would like to appeal to the international community to monitor this issue and guarantee that Cambodia’s democracy is protected,” he said.

Mr Hong, one of the four suspects, said he was still shocked that he had been charged under terrorism charges.

“I don’t know what aspect is related to terrorism,” he said. “I confirm that my case is a political issue.”

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the SRP was misplaced if they think the case is politically driven.

“They should show proof that what they did was not terrorism,” he said.

Chief prosecutor Pen Sarat said investigations into the four suspects was ongoing, though the judge had not yet decided to bring the men to trial.

“This is court procedure,” he said. “We don’t consider whether they are a political party member.”

Kou Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections questioned whether there was anywhere near enough evidence to charge the four men with terrorism.

“The accusation of terrorism is very serious. They should be careful before they make those charges,” he said.


Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.