Four opposition Candlelight Party members, including two elected councilors, have been arrested and held in pretrial detention on forgery charges connected to the 2022 commune elections according to Prey Veng deputy prosecutor Chan Vannak.
“[We] have implemented an interrogative procedure with investigating judges,” Vannak told CamboJA.
The investigating judge ordered the detention of the four members — Eang Chea, Heng Sam Oeun, Seng Visal, and Bin Choung — and each faces alleged charges of forgery and the use of forgery documents under articles 204 and 205 in the Criminal Code, according to the Prey Veng court’s Wednesday statement posted on Facebook. Chea and Oeun face additional charges as accomplices to forgery.
Kansorm Ak commune councilor Eang Chea and Kampong Trabek district Candlelight chief Heng Sam Oeun, were arrested on April 12 following the court’s bring warrant, according to Prey Veng police chief Chouen Bunchhorn.
Candlelight’s Prey Veng financial chief Visal and elected Prasat commune councilor Choung were summoned by the court for questioning on Wednesday and arrested and detained afterwards,
All of the arrests were related to the preparation of the candidate lists in the 2022, said Sam Sokong, defense lawyer for the four party members.
Candlelight spokesperson Kimsour Phearith said party members were being arrested to threaten the spirits of activists and party supporters ahead of the July national elections. He said the four were imprisoned before an investigation could be completed.
“They haven’t yet investigated whether it was true that somebody had complained by taking their names to put on the list [candidate]” Phearith said.
“If cases existed, [the investigation and arrests] should have occurred since last year’s election, why have they carried it out right now, it will make the political atmosphere gloomy,” Phearith added. “This is an action to provoke both physical and psychological abuse by supporters and party activists, including voters.”
The European Union parliament issued a warning in March vowing to issue further sanctions against Cambodia if persecution of activists and opposition party members did not cease.
CPP spokesperson SoK Eysan denied the ruling party was persecuting opposition party members and said the law must be upheld against persons who have committed offenses.
“When they have committed offenses, it is not persecution,” he said. “It is implementing the law for those who have violated the law.’