A 16-year-old son of a jailed CNRP official was denied bail by the Appeal Court following his arrest in June for incitement and insulting public officials over his digital activities.
Defense lawyer Sam Sokong said judge Duch Soksarin made the decision at a hearing Tuesday morning as the court was concerned the 16-year-old would reoffend if released. Police said at the time of his arrest that they had Telegram and audio messages as evidence.
Sokong said the decision was harsh considering his age. The 16-year-old has autism, and might not properly understand the law, he said. Imprisonment could affect his preparations for his Year 8 school exams, Sokong added.
The family will again appeal to the Supreme Court, he said.
Before his arrest, the 16-year-old was assaulted by two unknown assailants in public in April. He needed 20 stitches after the attackers threw a brick at his head, according to his mother, Prum Chantha.
His father is Kak Komphear, a former CNRP council member who was arrested last year and is part of the opposition “mass trials” related to support for exiled party co-founder Sam Rainsy’s attempt to return to the country in 2019.
Chantha, an active protester since her husband’s arrest, said her son was not brought to Tuesday’s hearing, with Covid-19 given as the reason. But she had seen other detainees brought to court.
“He’s young and he is not an adult yet,” Chantha said. “It’s all politically motivated.”
Cambodian Center for Human Rights director Chak Sopheap also called for the 16-year-old’s release. The detention of the 16-year-old could be an act of intimidation against his mother and her fellow protesters, she said.
“His mother is always active in protesting with other women, called ‘Friday Women,’ and we have often seen that they are threatened and harassed by authorities when they protest,” Sopheap said. “We see that this could be a sign of a threat against his mother and other activists that dare to protest.”