Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted a 23-year-old transvestite and sentenced him to two years, but with his punishment suspended down to one year, for insulting Khmers in a video clip posted on Facebook after he was assaulted by a group of men in the capital in February.
Judge Mao Sina identified the accused as Yin Heng, also known as “Champei Khmao” or “Black Frangipani”, a third-year law student from Preah Vihear province’s Roveang district who is studying in the capital.
“The court has decided to convict and sentence him to two years, and the term of his punishment shall be reduced to only one year in jail,” Judge Sina said. “The rest of his sentence shall be completely suspended.”
“The court orders him to pay three million riels (about $750) to put into the state budget,” he added.
Judge Sina said Mr Heng was charged with incitement to discriminate following his arrest on February 5 by anti-cybercrime police from the Interior Ministry at his rental house in Daun Penh district.
He added that the accused was arrested on the order of Interior Minister Sar Kheng after his Facebook post, which contained a barrage of insults against Khmers, caused an outcry from other users.
Mr Heng’s video clip was played in court during his trial earlier this month, showing him going on a tirade over his attack.
“I was riding my motorbike by myself. However, three people riding a motorbike behind me came alongside and one of them hit me on the head,” he said. “I don’t understand. Did I do something wrong? I tried to remain calm during and after the incident but my head hurt.”
“Now there is a huge bump on my head. They were truly Khmer people – Khmer blood. Khmers are like animals. Khmers are bad,” Mr Heng added. “Why did you do this to me? What have I ever done to you? You will be destroyed – not by other people, but by yourselves. It’s fitting that the Khmer Empire lost its territory. You will be burned and destroyed. If Khmers lose even more territory, it is even better.”
A day after he posted the clip, another Facebook user lashed back at him and Mr Heng posted a video apologising to all Cambodian people.
“After further thinking, I know that I was wrong to use degrading language about Cambodia and Cambodian people,” he said. “But I just wanted to express my overwhelming feelings, because I was very angry at the time after I was hit on the head.”
During his trial on June 6, Mr Heng admitted committing the offence.
Mr Heng noted that at about 7pm on February 4, he was travelling on his motorbike along Russian Boulevard towards his rental house in Daun Penh district’s Chey Chumneas commune after dropping off a friend at the Phnom Penh International Airport.
He said while travelling home, he was attacked by the three men on the road in Toek Thla commune.
Mr Heng said that he was angry over the attack and later stood outside the Royal Palace and posted the video, showing him with a bump on his head and the palace in the background and making the derogatory comments, which he later acknowledged was a mistake and expressed regret over.
Deputy prosecutor Kuch Kimlong during the trial on June 6 said that Mr Heng’s actions seriously affected the reputation and honour of the Khmer race, all Cambodians and the King.
“[We understood] you were of Vietnamese-Cambodian blood because your father was a Vietnamese national, however, you were born in this country, your mother and your grandparents and other relatives are Khmers and were also born in this country,” Mr Kimlong said.
“Why did you look down and insult your own nation and race?” he asked Mr Heng.
Mr Kimlong added that due to Mr Heng’s actions, Cambodians and Cambodian laws cannot pardon him, and that he shall be punished in accordance with the law.
After the judge handed down his sentence yesterday, Mr Heng said outside the court that he agreed with his punishment.
“I accept my sentence. I will not appeal to the Appeal Court,” Mr Heng said.
He said that he will resume his studies after completing his sentence next year.