In Incitement Appeal, CNRP Activist Claims His Account Was Hacked

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The Supreme Court in 2022. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)

An opposition activist appealed his incitement conviction for a social media post at the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The case relates to a Facebook post from 2020, but details were not discussed in court on Wednesday.

Tum Bunthorn was convicted in December 2020 to 20 months in jail in a case that also included CNRP co-founder Sam Rainsy and activist monk But Buntenh. Rainsy was convicted for a social media post urging microfinance borrowers to cease repayments as a form of protest.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Bunthorn initially asked the judge to delay the session because his lawyer, Sam Sokong, was not present. Sokong could not be reached by phone on Wednesday.

The case proceeded, however, with presiding judge Chiv Keng saying it was only a misdemeanor and no written request for a delay had been submitted to court.

Asked why he was appealing his sentence, Bunthorn told the court that his Facebook account had been hacked and the content on his page was not his.

“I already stated at the Appeal Court that I have no skills in information and technology and had no ability to protect it from being hacked by others,” he said, adding that he had not been able to get back into his account.

“It did not belong to me [but] it was used to inculpate me. It is so unfair,” Bunthorn said. “So I ask the Supreme Court to drop the charges against me. Those were not my thoughts.”

In the December 2020 verdicts, Rainsy was handed two incitement sentences of two years in prison, while Buntenh and Bunthorn were given 20 months. Two other opposition activists, Ouk Chhum and Lous Chenglay, were sentenced to 18 months in jail.

A decision on Bunthorn’s appeal has been scheduled for next Wednesday.

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