Grain-Truck Protesters Charged With Incitement, Son Chhay Questioned Again

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Candlelight vice president Son Chhay speaks to the media on July 15, 2022, after he was questioned in relation to a CPP lawsuit. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)

Four people who led protests against the seizure of two overloaded Thai grain trucks in Battambang province have been charged with alleged obstruction and incitement.

Around 500 farmers protested on July 9 after authorities seized two grain trucks carrying Cambodian produce across the border. The farmers said they relied on Thai traders and feared a drop-off in trade due to the authorities’ actions.

The first night, authorities were unable to quell the protest in order to remove the trucks from the scene. The next morning, provincial officers took away the trucks and later arrested four individuals for inciting the gathering of people.

Deputy provincial police chief Lim Puthyla said on Friday that those four ­— three men and a woman — had now been charged and placed in pretrial detention.

“All four people are being detained for obstruction and incitement to commit a felony,” Puthyla said, adding that a fifth man, a military colonel named Rong Rim, had also been summoned to court.

“This is technical work and we are searching for him, so I cannot give you information. When we arrest him, we will show you,” Puthyla said.

One of the four charged suspects is the publisher of the Battambang Post, he added.

— Mech Dara

Son Chhay Questioned in Second Defamation Case

Candlelight Party vice president Son Chhay faced questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday for the second of two similar defamation cases against him for claiming votes were stolen at the June 5 commune election.

Chhay was questioned Tuesday in a case brought by the National Election Committee; on Friday he was questioned over a complaint filed by the ruling CPP. The CPP is seeking $1 million in damages.

Both relate to a media interview in which Chhay alleged stolen votes due to election-day irregularities, including local officials standing around polling centers in alleged intimidation and vote-counting taking place behind closed doors.

Speaking to reporters after questioning on Friday, Chhay said deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal had questioned him about alleged exaggeration of the facts about what transpired on election day.

But Chhay argued he had evidence to back his claims, and Friday’s questioning was longer than Tuesday’s because he had presented his findings based on statements sent by Candlelight activists across the country.

“This is an unnecessary complaint and it is not useful for both the CPP and Candlelight Party,” he said. “Our activities in the local areas suffered from intimidation, and we received information regarding the buying of votes and activities disrupting our work.”

— Morm Moniroth and Mech Dara

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