The Phnom Penh Municipal Court is pressing ahead with investigating four-year-old claims that six Boeng Kak activists insulted and threatened a neighbor, despite the accuser dropping the complaint last week.
Municipal court spokesman Y Rin said the court was required to follow procedure and investigate complaints, even if the complainant backed out, though he declined to explain why investigations were restarting now.
Boeng Kak activists protest outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in September as Tep Vanny is questioned inside. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)The country’s courts, in fact, regularly drop cases once the complainant has withdrawn—often due to out-of-court compensation being paid—with prosecutors and judges often arguing that cases cannot proceed without an active plaintiff.
However, Mr. Rin insisted that the complaint must proceed against the Boeng Kak activists—who have found themselves embroiled in a litany of legal cases, some brought by the government.
“Following the law, every time a criminal lawsuit is filed with the court, we proceed even if the plaintiff drops the complaint,” Mr. Rin said. “We act on every case. No case gets more attention than another.”
Mr. Rin said one of the activists, Nget Kun, 77, was placed under judicial supervision after being questioned on Thursday. Fellow activists Chheng Leap, Kong Chantha and Tol Sreypov have been summoned for questioning in the next two weeks, Ms. Chantha said.
Ly Mom, who filed the complaint over what she said were leaflets left at her house that insulted her and threatened violence, said last week that she wanted to put the dispute behind her and maintain good relations with her neighbors.
The Boeng Kak activists say that the courts are digging up whatever old cases they can find against the group, which is among the few who have continued to regularly hold “Black Monday” protests seeking the release of jailed human rights defenders.
“The court is trying to put pressure on us, but we won’t stop our activities,” Ms. Chantha said.
Two of the activists, including the group’s most prominent member, Tep Vanny, were convicted in August of insulting court officials during a protest that month in which they cursed effigies of various authorities who they say have failed to find justice for the family of slain political analyst Kem Ley. Ms. Vanny remains in prison over a separate case.
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