Release of Opposition Official’s Teenage Son Delayed Despite Statement

2 min read
Prum Chantha, whose husband Kak Komphear is in prison, protests outside a Phnom Penh court in January 2021. (Hy Chhay/VOD)

The release of a jailed CNRP official’s imprisoned teenage son was delayed for two days on Monday.

CNRP activist Kak Komphear’s son, who his family says has autism spectrum disorder, was jailed in June over digital messages he sent on Telegram criticizing the government. He was sentenced last week for incitement and insult to four months and 15 days in prison. The case has attracted criticism from international human rights bodies and U.N. representatives.

In a rare move, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week issued a press release, in both Khmer and English, saying that the boy would be released on Monday.

However, his mother, Prum Chantha, told reporters outside Prey Sar Prison that he would now be released on Wednesday.

“I am very disappointed. They announced it themselves,” Chantha told VOD. She has been regularly protesting outside the court since her husband’s release.

“For now, they did not free my son. Maybe they are afraid of the supporters that love my son, who has mental troubles and people come to support him a lot.”

Defense lawyer Sam Sokong told reporters in front of the prison this morning that the court’s earlier announcement appeared to be technically wrong.

“We are here because the court’s announcement was clear, and we are all confused, and it makes the work of the court seem to be not clear. The announcement was made but in practice, it is different.”

Deputy prosecutor Soeu Landy could not be reached for comment, and court spokesman Y Rin did not reply to sent questions.

Three UN human rights experts have issued a statement linking the teenager’s sentencing to the authorities’ ongoing campaign of intimidation and violence against civil society and opposition activists. Human rights experts have called on the Cambodian government to immediately stop using the judiciary to prosecute those who dare to stand up for human rights and freedom of expression in Cambodia.

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