Provincial Court Releases 15-Year-Old Son of Candlelight Activist

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Candlelight Party members raise an election sign in Pursat province on March 4, 2022. (Candlelight Party Facebook page)

The Pursat Provincial Court has released an underage son of an opposition activist on bail after a monthlong detention in relation to a charge of using illegal electric-fishing tools.

Political activist Hem Chhel and his 15-year-old son were arrested on April 12 over illegal fishing, though the family disputed the evidence.

Sam Sokong, a defense lawyer for the pair, said on Friday that the provincial court had released the boy on bail on Wednesday with some conditions. The boy is not allowed to leave the country, and must notify the court when changing addresses and appear when summoned, Sokong said.

Sokong said the court had not clarified the reason for the release. He welcomed the decision, but said he wanted to see the charge dropped.

Chhel, the father, is a commune election candidate for the opposition Candlelight Party and previously supported the CNRP.

Provincial court spokespeople and prosecution could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Am Sam Ath, spokesperson for rights group Licadho, warned that there appeared to be recent cases of persecution against Candlelight Party activists.

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