Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Monday in what the CNRP has described as an unconstitutional trial over Facebook posts critical of the government’s work demarcating Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.
One of the CNRP’s most outspoken lawmakers and a leader of the party’s 2015 efforts to expose Vietnamese border incursions, Mr. Sam An was arrested in April shortly after returning to Cambodia following months traveling abroad.
During that time, he repeatedly accused the government of using illegal maps to demarcate its eastern frontier despite warnings from Prime Minister Hun Sen that such claims would result in arrest.
Mr. Sam An was arrested and prosecuted despite his parliamentary legal immunity, and he and his lawyers walked out of the one-day trial in protest. The Justice Ministry has argued that the move was legal due to a clause in the Constitution that allows for lawmakers to be arrested when caught in the act of a crime, which it said applied due to the Facebook posts remaining online.
At the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday afternoon, Presiding Judge Heng Sokna announced that Mr. Sam An had been found guilty of inciting discrimination and inciting social instability. He handed down a sentence of two and half years and a fine of 4 million riel, or about $1,000.
Mr. Sam An and his lawyers were not present in court. *
Opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour remains in prison awaiting sentencing over charges related to a Facebook post in which he presented a fake border treaty with Vietnam.
CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha was also convicted last month for refusing to appear in court, despite his parliamentary immunity. Authorities have said he will remain free pending appeals in the case.
sovuthy@cambodiadaily.com
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