Three of four environmental activists arrested on Wednesday are accused of plotting, a crime punishable by five to 10 years in prison, according to National Police.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun, who on Wednesday referred reporters to a Covid-19 committee, said the three had been arrested based on a Phnom Penh Municipal Court warrant but did not give details of the alleged crime they had committed.
“Now they are being processed by judicial police,” Kim Khoeun said, adding that the charge on the warrant was plotting.
The Criminal Code defines plotting as “a resolution agreed upon by two or more persons to commit an attack where the resolution was put into effect by one or more material actions,” and is punishable by five to 10 years in jail.
Kim Khoeun denied that National Police had arrested a fourth activist — whose wife on Wednesday said she had seen him detained at a Kandal province police station. “We only arrested three people,” he said.
Kandal provincial police serious crimes bureau chief Chao Vuthy denied that the fourth activist, Yim Leanghy, was under arrest. Provincial police chief Chhoeun Sochet could not be reached.
San Mala, an advocacy officer at the Cambodian Youth Network, said associates and NGO partners had received no information about Leanghy more than a day after the detention witnessed by his wife at the Koh Thom district police station.
Mala also raised concerns over the potential charge of plotting.
“The arrest and accusation of plotting is very serious, and unacceptable because what they’ve done in the past were not political things to compete or to take power from the government, but all they have done is to protect the environment and bring justice for people who are victims of developments,” he said.
Mala on Wednesday named the three activists arrested in Phnom Penh as Ly Chandaravuth, Sun Ratha and “Lymeng.”
Last year, three environmental activists from the group Mother Nature were arrested while planning a livestreamed march about preserving Boeng Tamok, a Phnom Penh lake. The three activists, Thun Ratha, Long Kunthea and Phuon Keoreaksmey, were found guilty of incitement last month, and sentenced to 18 to 20 months in jail. Two others, including the group’s co-founder Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, were also found guilty in absentia.