A former opposition commune chief yesterday turned herself in to police amidst a crackdown by the authorities on activists allegedly linked to a coup plot by Sam Rainsy ahead of his return to the Kingdom next month.
Seng Sokhorn, who was the court-dissolved CNRP’s chief of Phsar Depot II commune in Tuol Kork district, turned herself in at the Phnom Penh police headquarters yesterday after Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap last week urged former opposition activists involved in the plot to voluntarily report their activities to the authorities to receive clemency.
In a four-minute video footage, Ms Sokhorn said that after the CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in 2017, Mr Rainsy instructed all activists to meet up and eat Khmer noodles together. The government considers the gathering detrimental to national security.
Ms Sokhon said Mr Rainsy insulted the King and instigated the armed forces to rise up against the government.
“He instigated the people to stand up against the government and incite the army to turn their guns against the government. He insulted the King. I think these activities are a betrayal to the nation,” Ms Sokhorn said. “After I see that those activities violated the law, I decided to turn myself in and confess before the authority.”
“I would like to condemn all activities by Mr Rainsy, such as the incitement of people to stand up and the armed forces to turn their guns against the government,” she said. “I appeal to other people and activists who have done wrong like me, please turn yourselves in to maintain peace in the Kingdom.”
According to the Justice Ministry, a dozen people allegedly linked to the Mr Rainsy’s have been arrested so far and two dozen others are still at large.
The arrests came after Mr Rainsy announced his planned return on November 9 and called on citizens to mobilise and partake in his “nine fingers” campaign, which is considered as a coup plot by the government.
Phnom Penh Police chief Lieutenant General Sar Thet yesterday said Ms Sokhorn was allowed to return home after acknowledging her mistake.
“Yes, we allowed her to return home and she is not detained,” Lt Gen Thet said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that Ms Sokhorn’s confession could be used as evidence against Mr Rainsy.
“It is likely her confession will be used as evidence against Sam Rainsy,” Mr Mong Hay said.
“But it is very doubtful whether any verdict against Sam Rainsy carries much weight when courts are not independent and impartial while the country’s constitution said that the judiciary must be independent, and while all accused persons have the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal,” he added.
Former opposition party lawmaker Ou Chanrath said he supports Ms Sokhorn turning herself in and confessing.
“I cannot say that the confession came from her heart but that’s the only option for her to receive clemency,” Mr Chanrath said. “It is fair for her [Ms Sokhorn] because she had no choice.”
“It is a serious issue for them because the courts have charged them with conspiracy in a plot to overthrow the government,” he said.