Journalist Faces Arrest Warrant After Filming Land Clearing

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A meeting at the Preah Vihear Provincial Court in 2021. (Preah Vihear prosecution’s Facebook page)
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A Preah Vihear journalist says he is facing arrest after filming a bulldozer clearing state land, though the court says the warrant was issued after the man failed to appear for questioning four times.

Try Sophal, a journalist for online news outlet “Everyday,” said on Monday that the case dated back to late last year, when he reported on a bulldozer clearing state land in Kulen district’s Srayong commune.

He and other journalists then received complaints of stealing and threatening, he said.

“I was accused that I stole, I robbed. That would mean that at that time I went to remove the key or confiscate something from the perpetrator that accused me. But I [only] saw the crime and I filmed and reported. Why did they accuse me of that?” Sophal said.

Sophal said he was also beaten at the time but the provincial court had released the assailants. He complained to the Anti-Corruption Unit about the court, and believed the current arrest warrant could have come about because the court was angry with him.

Sophal’s lawyer Morn Keo Sivin said his client was merely reporting the news, and he would submit a letter to the Justice Ministry to intervene in the case.

Deputy prosecutor and provincial court spokesman Vuth Savy, however, said the arrest warrant was a legal process resulting from the journalist failing to respond to four previous summonses.

“I am not the one who filed the lawsuit against him. I received the complaint,” he said. “When a prosecutor receives a complaint from another party, whether the person is right or wrong, both parties must come into the light and face the prosecution to find out what is wrong. If the individual does not commit the crime as the other party [alleged], then we go home.”

The other journalists in the case had already been questioned and sent home, Savvy added. “He alone … did not come to answer.”

Plaintiff Song Chen could not be reached for comment.

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