A court in Cambodia has charged the second person in one week for allegedly threatening the life of Prime Minister Hun Sen on the head of state’s Facebook page, drawing concern from a rights group that suggested the post may have been faked to frighten online critics.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Rom Chamroeurn, 28, with making a “death threat” under Article 233 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code, court spokesperson Ly Sophanna told reporters Thursday, adding that his case had been sent to an investigating judge.
“The person posted a message on Facebook threatening to kill Samdech Techo Hun Sen,” he said, using an honorific title for the prime minister.
According to screenshots published by government-aligned media group Fresh News, Rom Chamroeurn posted a photo of himself posing with a pistol alongside text that said, “Hun Sen, somehow I will kill you” and claiming that Cambodia would not have peace until the strongman was dead.
Rom Chamroeurn allegedly claimed that Hun Sen and his family are ethnic yuon, using a term for Vietnamese in Cambodia which some consider derogatory, and suggested that he had an affair with the prime minister’s wife, Bun Rany.
The case is the latest in a series of court actions pertaining to supposed threats against government officials and comes just one week after police in Sihanoukville detained a young man named Pich Ratha, also for allegedly threatening to kill Hun Sen in a comment posted to the prime minister’s Facebook page.
Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service Friday, Am Sam Ath, head of investigations for the Cambodian rights group Licadho, said he was concerned that some Facebook accounts may have been faked as part of a bid to frame the accused and to discourage online criticism.
“We are concerned that the Facebook accounts might have been fabricated or hacked to cause the victims harm,” he said.
“Recent arrests [in connection to the alleged threats] have sent a chilling message to other Facebook users.”
Am Sam Ath urged authorities to undertake a “thorough investigation” into online threats before making any arrests to ensure that the accounts are not phony.
He also warned against the use of the judicial system to restrict freedom of speech.
Other civil society groups have also accused the authorities of practicing a double standard by arresting those who have allegedly threatened members of Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), when several people who have made death threats against members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) remain at large.
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Reported by Moniroth Morm for RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
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