Battambang Candlelight Activist Convicted for Filming Alleged Election Irregularity

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Battambang provincial court building in 2017. (Huy Ousa/VOD)
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A Battambang Candlelight official was convicted on Thursday for trespassing a stranger’s front yard in a case where he attempted to document alleged commune election violations in June.

Ley Sokhon, a party activist, was arrested in June after actively searching for fraud during the June commune election in Battambang province. He recorded and posted a video of a confrontation with CPP officials, who were carrying a list of voter names from the NEC and walking door to door. 

In the video, he follows them to a home where Sokhon records a man holding a bundle of money, which the man denied was a bribe he had just received to vote for the ruling party. Sokhon can be seen walking past the front gate of the house and towards the man, who insisted the money was from selling.

Sokhon was tried on November 3 for trespassing and convicted on Thursday, said Candlelight provincial head Dim Saroeun. Sokhon was sentenced to six months in prison and is expected to be released soon, he added.

Saroeun, who was present in court on Thursday, said the plaintiff — the man recorded in the video holding the money — was angry because Sokhon had filmed him but had since withdrawn the complaint.

“This is more about politics involved during the commune election,” he said.

Lin Lida, Sokhon’s wife, said she expected her husband to be released in the next few weeks. She said her husband should not have been jailed over what she characterized as a misunderstanding, especially when the plaintiff had withdrawn the complaint.

“This is an injustice to our family,” she said. “It has been five months. It has impacted my finances.”

The Candlelight Party has accused the National Election Committee and ruling party officials of election irregularities during the June election, including the arrest, intimidation and harassment of party candidates. Similar accusations made by party vice president Son Chhay on a radio chat show saw him convicted for defamation of the CPP and NEC and ordered to pay more than $750,000 in compensation.

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