Two Candlelight Party officials have been summoned for court questioning in Pailin and Tbong Khmum over separate charges they argue amount to political intimidation.
One case dates back to March 2021, when Candlelight’s current Pailin working group head Khem Mony Kosal lost his provincial health department post for criticizing Covid-19 quarantine measures. The charge of incitement to discriminate hung over him during the recent election, and he has now received a summons, dated July 15, for questioning by an investigating judge at the Pailin Provincial Court.
In the second case, a second deputy commune chief for Candlelight in Tbong Khmum, Sok Srey Nuon, faces a defamation charge for posting a photo online in May of CPP envelopes with 20,000 riel notes in it, suggesting bribery. The summons against the deputy in O’Reang-Ou district’s Preah Theat commune, to appear at the Tbong Khmum court, is dated July 29.
Mony Kosal said on Tuesday that it was his fourth summons after he was able to get previous questioning dates delayed. He remained defiant, arguing the case was political.
“It’s a kind of persecution … because this case happened since 2021 … and when we became a political party, they still continued the harassment by using the summons to prevent our political activities.”
Nevertheless, he would fight his case in court, he said. “We still hope that the court uses its immunity and is not under the political influence to solve this problem and give justice to me.”
Srey Nuon, meanwhile, said she had received her summons around 10 a.m. Tuesday from commune police. She understood the charge was about her online post showing 20,000-riel notes, in which she also said: “Setting the price, parents and brothers, for a five-year mandate to be the equivalent of 1 kg of local chicken. Let’s make a change, brothers, change the commune chief who serves the party and replace them with a commune chief who serves the people.”
Srey Nuon said the National Election Committee had already ruled on the case in June, fining her 5 million riel, or about $1,250. She had not expected to be summoned over the same dispute again, she said.
“I thought it was already finished and I did not know there was still a complaint at the court,” Srey Nuon said. “I think this case is a threat and politically motivated against me as a second deputy commune chief.”
She would consult with her defense lawyer Sam Sokong before the questioning date, she said.
Mony Kosal and Srey Nuon are both summoned to appear at their respective provincial courts on August 16.