A former CNRP official from Kampot wants the Supreme Court to quash a five-year prison sentence she received in 2020 for allegedly supporting the return of Sam Rainsy in November 2019.
Pen Mom, who was the CNRP’s deputy chairperson in Kampot’s Kandorl commune, was first arrested in October 2019 for allegedly drumming up support for Sam Rainsy’s eventually unsuccessful return to Cambodia in November 2019. She was released on bail that year, on the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen, but was arrested in September 2020 and sentenced to five years for plotting.
The Preah Sihanouk Appeal Court then suspended two years of her sentence in August 2021, leaving her to serve three of the five years.
Mom, who broke down in court Friday morning, said she had followed the terms of her court supervision when she was on bail and had only posted a video about dusty roads in Kampot’s Toek Chhou district when she was arrested in 2020.
“The [residents there] asked me to help do a live video to ask authorities to spray water to stop the dust from rising,” she said in court.
She also denied gathering people for Rainsy’s 2019 return and wanted to return to her five children, asking for leniency from the court.
While Sam Sokong, her lawyer, was absent from the hearing, her bar association-appointed lawyer, Chum Iek, said she had freedom of expression to support whichever party she wanted and that the government had directed that people arrested before Rainsy’s return should be released on bail, but the Kampot court went ahead and convicted her.
Deputy prosecutor Chhoun Chantha said he agreed with the decision from the two lower courts and did not want any change in her sentencing.
Mom is one of more than 100 CNRP leaders, members, activists and supporters who have been arrested since 2019, and most have been convicted of serious crimes like plotting and attacks against the state. Many are overseas and have not been jailed. The government initiated four mass trials to convict people linked to Rainsy’s return, finishing three of them.
In the most recent trial, more than 51 people were convicted in June for plotting and incitement.