Former CNRP activist requests Appeal Court for sentence reduction

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Police brought the accused to the Appeal Court. Facebook

A former activist of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Monday asked the Appeal Court to reduce his 18-month prison sentence imposed by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The sentence was passed after he criticised the government on Facebook in May last year.

The case was first heard by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on September 29, and the verdict was announced on October 10.

At his appeal on Monday, May Hong Srieng, 38, said the words he used in his Facebook post were merely copied from others. He emphasised that he had no intention of criticising the government.

“I accept this charge but I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence so that I can immediately seek medical treatment as I have a blocked artery in my leg,” he said.

Stating the case against Hong Srieng, Judge Chan Madina said he had actively written Facebook posts which were abusive and critical of the nation’s leadership.

Following an investigation conducted by the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Online Crime Department, police arrested Hong Srieng on St 2004, in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district.

The accused previously escaped arrest by Preah Sihanouk provincial police.

“Those behind the building collapse in Sihanoukville, which killed people, were promoted to higher ranks,” the accused had written, Judge Madina said.

The judge said Hong Srieng’s posts also contained critical comments and serious allegations against government ministries.

Hong Srieng was charged with incitement to commit crimes under Articles 495 and 496 of the Criminal Code. However, his charge under Article 496 – incitement to commit discrimination – was dropped.

Prosecutor Im Sophan said the accused confessed to his wrongdoing during interrogation but asked the court to reduce his prison sentence. “So I leave it to the consideration of the trial chamber,” he said.

Defence lawyer Ket Khy said his client realised his mistake after being imprisoned for more than five months.

“The prison sentence could be between six months and two years. So I ask the court to reduce his sentence as he had requested,” said Khy.

Despite hopes for a positive response, Khy said the decision to reduce Hong Srieng’s sentence is contingent upon the judge’s discretion.

The verdict is set to be announced on January 28.