The National Election Committee will file a complaint to Battambang Provincial Court asking it to issue warrants to arrest three former opposition party officials for failing to pay fines over an election boycott campaign during the July 29 national election.
On December 13, NEC chairman Sik Bunhok ordered former Battambang opposition official Chea Chiv to pay 10 million riel ($2,500), while Kruy Kim Saing and Thorng Saroeun were ordered to pay five million riel ($1,250) each within 30 days after being found guilty of violating article 142 of the Election Law.
The “clean finger” campaign led by opposition leaders last year called for a boycott of last year’s national election and ten people from Battambang and Kampot provinces were found guilty of violating the election law.
But after an appeal, the NEC dropped the charges against seven out of the ten, while Mr Kim Saing and Mr Saroeun’s fines were reduced.
According to an NEC complaint obtained by Khmer Times yesterday, Mr Chiv, Mr Kim Saing and Mr Saroeun failed to pay the fines and should be arrested.
NEC deputy secretary-general Som Sorida yesterday said that the clean finger campaign, in which the men posted message on Facebook urging a boycott, affected the turnout rate and spoiled a number of ballots.
“They were intentionally obstructing the election process. Their activities clearly affected the election process,” Mr Sorida said. “They should have paid the fines but they did not, so the NEC has no other choice but follow the law and call for their arrest.”
Mr Sorida said Mr Chiv would be jailed for six months, while Mr Kim Saing and Mr Saroeun would face three months in prison.
Reached by phone yesterday, Mr Chiv said he and the two others could not afford to pay the hefty fines.
“We make a little income after being unemployed due to the dissolution of the CNRP. How could we earn enough money to pay fines?” he said. “I think that the decision was unjust and I am sure that it was politically motivated.”
Sam Sokong, a lawyer representing the three men, said he will discuss the issue with his clients and look for an alternative to avoid an arrest.
“I hope the NEC will consider this case again. My clients have the intention to pay the fines but now they are very poor. So they need time to earn money,” Mr Sokong said. “I will talk to my clients and see how I could help them.”
Ven Porn, head of Battambang Provincial Election Commission, yesterday said he gave a notice about the fines to the three men last month.
“I did not hear a word from them since I informed them about the fines and deadline,” Mr Porn said. “I think they could make a request to postpone the deadline for paying fines, but they did not do it; instead, they ignored it.”