Opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour was sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty on Monday of incitement and forgery for presenting a fake border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam on Facebook.
Neither Mr. Sok Hour nor his lawyer were present at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but a number of CNRP lawmakers, including Son Chhay, attended the verdict.
Opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour is escorted into the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh in June. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)After handing down the verdict, Presiding Judge Ros Piseth said Mr. Sok Hour had the right to appeal.
Mr. Sok Hour was detained in August last year, two days after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered his arrest after watching a Facebook video of the senator presenting the fake treaty, in which Cambodia agrees to dissolve its border with Vietnam.
The senator had denied the three charges–incitement, forging a public document and using a forged document–claiming that he simply found the treaty online years ago after Googling “1979 treaty.”
The video and arrest came at the height of tensions created by a CNRP campaign to expose Vietnamese incursions into Cambodia and other irregularities in the demarcation of the countries’ shared border.
After initially appearing to feel the pressure from the CNRP’s campaign, sending terse diplomatic missives to Hanoi about alleged incursions, Mr. Hun Sen quickly decided to take a different course of action, ordering the arrest of Mr. Sok Hour and announcing that anyone who accused the government of using the wrong border maps would face legal action.
At a graduation ceremony in August last year, Mr. Hun Sen said that Mr. Sok Hour’s actions amounted to “treason.”
“The senator not only posted this fake treaty, but also made some commentary. So we cannot pardon him,” Mr. Hun Sen said at the time. “Now it’s posted [online], and it’s a red-handed crime that he shall be arrested for immediately.”
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