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Former Cambodia Daily Reporters’ Incitement Trial Postponed

FILE: Zsombor Peter (left) and Aun Pheap are both facing up to two years in prison on a trumped-up charge of incitement to commit a felony. (Courtesy photo of Ben Woods)

A court spokesperson said the delay came as one of the judges assigned to the case was travelling overseas.

The trial for two former Cambodia Daily reporters in Ratanakkiri Provincial Court was delayed on Wednesday, on account of one of the judges missing the hearing.

The two reporters, Aun Pheap and Canadian Zsombor Peter, have been charged with “incitement” for reporting on a story in the province, weeks prior to the 2017 Commune Election. They were writing a story about Ratanakkiri’s Pate commune being the only opposition-held constituency in the province.

A court spokesperson said one of the judges assigned to the case was travelling overseas.

“Yes, [the case] has been delayed due to absence of Judge Chhun Chanseiha, who is on a trip in India,” said Keo Piseth, spokesperson for the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court.

The court spokesperson said the new trial date has yet to be set.

Sek Sophorn, the reporters’ lawyer, expressed his disappointment over the delay and questioned why he wasn’t informed beforehand.

“The announcement [of the delay] was made during the actual hearing, which surprised and disappointed us. They should have informed us days ahead as we have been preparing and having to travel all the way [to Rattanakkiri].

Soeung Senkaruna, senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, said such trial delay has negatively impacted everyone, especially those directly involved in the case - who have to waste time traveling to one of the farthest provinces – and even those who monitor press freedom in the country.

The two reporters were charged over two years ago, with both of them having left the country shortly after.