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Opposition Activist Fears Arrest Ahead of Election

Sam Rainsy Party supports hold up the party flag, file photo.
Sam Rainsy Party supports hold up the party flag, file photo.

An opposition party activist in Kandal province says the court there is trying to detain him ahead of local elections next year.

Meas Peng, a Sam Rainsy Party second deputy commune chief in Kien Svay district, is accused of initiating the destruction of private property in a land dispute in the province.

However, he said Tuesday he feared the courts were seeking to detain him to prevent him from contesting commune council elections next year.

“I am living in a safe area and am worried that the Kandal authorities will arrest me,” he said. “My case involves politics, because the commune election is coming soon.”

He said he has asked international and national rights groups to intervene on his behalf.

The court summoned him on Friday, claiming he had incited villagers to violence in a dispute with Prak Savuth, a provincial council member who was awarded 40 hectares of land by the courts. More than 100 families have contested the decision.

Meas Peng said he had observed demonstrations by the villagers in his role as a commune official, but he denied inciting them.

Kandal court judge Lim Sokhuntha called for his arrest, but when police detained Meas Peng and brought him to the local prison, there was no official documentation, so his lawyer, Chhoung Chu Ngy, said he took him back home.

Chhoung Chu Ngy said Tuesday the judge had acted outside the law and could be sued for ordering an arrest without a proper detention order.

Lim Sokhuntha could not be reached for comment Monday. However, In Van Vibol, chief judge of the Kandal court, said the judge had not acted improperly. He declined to give more detail, saying the case was ongoing.

Adhoc investigator Chan Saveth said Monday the court must not act under political pressure. Meas Peng had not committed incitement, according to Adhoc observations, he said.

The detention order for Meas Peng follows a request last week from the Sam Rainsy Party that another of its Kandal activists, Mouek Chea, be freed from similar charges after leading a protest in Phnom Penh last month.