The trial of 15 opposition activists accused of incitement began yesterday in Phnom Penh Municipal Court by hearing the testimony of Chhour Pheng, one of the organisers.
Pheng said that in August, “I was ordered by Ho Vann (a former Cambodia National Rescue Party parliamentarian) by telelphone and (Facebook) Messenger calls to recruit or collect 50 former CNRP activists living in Phnom Penh to protest for the release of Rong Chhun in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.”
Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions and a member of the Cambodia Watchdog Council, was arrested for claiming that the country had ceded land to Vietnam along their shared border in Tboung Khmum province due to the placement of demarcation markers.
When Chhun appeared at court, activists had planned to protest for his release. They used social media and Facebook to stream live and post invite people to join the protest.
Judge Tithsothy Borachhath said: “The accused’s activities created serious chaos to public safety and affected the peace and order of the country. They violated the country’s laws.”
Pheng said that according to Vann’s order, the protest would take place on August 12. However, Pheng was arrested on August 4 by police in Daun Penh after his activities had been monitored.
“I acknowledge that I received the order from Ho Vann for finding and gathering the former CNRP’s activists to protest for the release of Rong Chhun in front of the Phnom Penh Court,” Pheng said.
“But since I was arrested by police, I couldn’t find any of the CNRP’s activists,” he said. “I did not commit any crime as I have been accused by police or the court.”
He appealed to the judge: “May the court please find truth and justice for me.”
Judge Borachhath said Pheng is charged with “incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest” under Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code.
The trial of all 15 activists will continue in January 2021.