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KPP seeks US help to free former leader

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Sourn Serey Ratha was jailed for five years on incitement charges. Supplied

The Khmer Power Party yesterday requested intervention from the US over the jailing of its former president, who holds US citizenship, on incitement charges after he questioned military manoeuvres by the government during the Laos border row.

Acting KPP president Suong Sophorn said the party sent a letter to the US embassy yesterday to request intervention in the case that has seen former KPP president Sourn Serey Ratha sentenced to five years in prison.

“We sent a letter to the US embassy to help monitor the case of Sourn Serey Ratha because he is of American nationality and we want the US embassy to help to intervene over his illegal imprisonment and ask the government to release him,” said Mr Sophorn, noting that the KPP would be holding a press conference over the issue today.

US embassy officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

“We cannot accept the court’s decision because it is illegal,” Mr Sophorn added. “It is not correct.”

Mr Serey Ratha was convicted on Friday of inciting military personnel to disobedience, demoralisation of the army and incitement to commit a felony and sentenced to five years.

The charges stemmed from a Facebook post he made after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered troops to the Laos-Cambodia border after Lao soldiers were spotted in Cambodian territory.

Mr Sophorn said Mr Serey Ratha’s comments were not criminal, and wondered why they were considered incitement when comments from the social affairs minister, defence minister and Mr Hun Sen about beating protesters were not.

Prior to the conviction, Mr Hun Sen said at a graduation ceremony for students of the Royal University of Phnom Penh that Mr Serey Ratha’s comments were unacceptable.

Nay Chakriya, Mr Serey Ratha’s wife, said they plan to appeal the conviction.

“I will continue to seek justice for my husband,” she said yesterday. “We have the right of freedom of expression.”

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