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Teacher charged under new royal insult law

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
The accused, who posted a message on Facebook. CEN

Kompong Thom Provincial Court yesterday charged a primary school director after he was accused of insulting the King on Facebook, making him the first person to go to court under the new law passed this year forbidding the insult of a member of the royal family.

Say Nora, provincial court spokesman, said yesterday that Kheang Navy, 50, director of the Prey Tahou Primary School and also a teacher, was detained over the allegations.

“The court decided to detain him already,” Mr Nora said. Mr Navy was arrested on Saturday.

The National Assembly unanimously adopted the law in February. If convicted, Mr Navy could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $12,500.

Kampong Thom provincial police arrested Mr Navy over comments he made that were allegedly critical of King Norodom Sihamoni, the late King Norodom Sihanouk, and Prince Norodom Ranariddh, over their alleged role in the dissolution of the CNRP.

“He is being detained,” Nhem Chhunly, provincial police chief, said yesterday. “He admitted to police that those were his comments.”

Mr Chhunly added that he did not know when Mr Navy would be out on trial.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said yesterday on Facebook that media reports have helped expose the message to the public.

“I think that the same message was posted again by Fresh News and people will read it much more than when it was posted by the teacher alone,” Mr Kanharith said, stressing that the media should instead only report on the message and not spread the insult again.

“If you publish the insult on your platform, then it will help the original intent of the accused,” he said.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated his intent to implement a penalty for those guilty of insulting the royal family, saying that a punishment was needed regardless of its severity.

“Our law concerning the punishment of wrongdoers for insulting the King is not as serious as those in Thailand and Saudi Arabia,” Mr Hun Sen said. “However, Cambodia needs to have a proper law because people have in the past insulted the king.”

With Reuters

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