A Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge on Monday jailed five men, believed to be former bodyguards of Sam Rainsy, on conspiracy charges.
The court identified them as Sim Kimleang, 43, Chhoun Sareth, 54, Sim Vuthy, 54, Ros Bunthan, 41 and Bo Sokeoun, 33. They were arrested by Banteay Meanchey provincial police on Sunday in Poipet city.
After the arrests, the five were transferred by the provincial police to the municipal court for further action.
Y Rin, court spokesman, yesterday said that after they were questioned, the investigating judge charged the accused with conspiracy.
“They were put into pre-trial detention at Prey Sar prison on Monday,” he noted.
Major General Ath Khem, provincial police chief, said on Monday that the suspects were staying at Ses Meas Guesthouse in Poipet commune’s Palelay village since Friday.
“Police arrested them in accordance with court warrants issued against them,” he noted.
The arrests took place a day after Rainsy’s planned return to the Kingdom on Saturday via the Poipet International Checkpoint.
Rhona Smith, UN special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, on Friday released a statement from Geneva expressing grave concern about the heightened political crackdowns across the country and called on the government to respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly.
She noted that since August, almost 90 people have been charged with “conspiracy” and at least 50 have been arrested in 20 provinces since Rainsy announced his plan to return to Cambodia.
“I call on the government and all parties to reduce escalations in tensions and seek dialogue in a peaceful environment that allows for diverging political voices to be expressed, and to avoid any further restrictions on fundamental freedoms that are necessary for the enjoyment of human rights by all,” Ms Smith said.
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin recently said that Rainsy and his supporters were charged because they intended to incite citizens to rebel against the government.
“There was evidence presented before those warrants were issued,” Mr Malin said. “Police officers will use those warrants to arrest those people.”