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Prosecutor Says Case Against Reporters Accused of Breaking Election ‘Ongoing’


A photo shared on Twitter on May 23, 2017, shows Cambodia's information minister Khieu Kanharith posting on Facebook a full image of the passport of a foreign journalist of The Cambodia Daily. (Screenshot from Twitter)

The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia issued a statement condemning the publication of an image of the journalist passport by information minister Khieu Kanharith via his Facebook page.

The prosecutor overseeing a complaint against two newspaper reporters accused of breaking the election law has said the investigation against them is ongoing, despite other officials saying it had been dropped.

Chea Pich, a prosecutor with the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court, said the complained had not been rejected, but rather it was under review to determine whose jurisdiction it fell under.

“Regarding their activities, we first wanted to review to see if it is under [Provincial Election Committee] authority. And after they reviewed it, they said it was not their jurisdiction, it is under the authority of the court,” he said.

“According to some factors that they [PEC] highlighted about professionalism relating to the election law, it [the complaint] was sent to the court, and the court decided to start investigating the case.”

However, Pen Chhundy, president of the PEC, said the committee had not received a formal complaint. “Complainants did not come to the PEC, so we don’t have any complaint regarding the election,” he said.

The complaint stems from a visit to Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district by The Cambodia Daily reporters Aun Pheap, a Cambodian, and Zsombor Peter, a Canadian, where they interviewed local residents about their opinions on the upcoming election.

The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia last week issued a statement condemning the publication of an image of Peter’s passport by information minister Khieu Kanharith via his Facebook page. The post was subsequently deleted.

On Tuesday, Hak Huon, Ratanakkiri deputy prosecutor, told The Cambodia Daily that the court had determined that there was not enough evidence to pursue a case against Pheap and Peter.

“We have reviewed the complaint and see that it’s not legally right. It’s kind of describing the activities and there is no evidence to back it up,” he was quoted as saying.

But on Wednesday Huon said the case was “with the prosecutor” and he was not aware of a final decision in the case.

The complaint was filed by an opposition commune chief, Romam Yuot, and two villagers, accusing the Cambodia Daily reporters of “inciting support for the opposition party” and “violating residents’ right to self-determination” for asking about their past voting habits.

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