Source: Khmer Times
Police yesterday arrested the president of the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association and three young people who were planning to screen an Al Jazeera investigation into the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.
Officers said they made the arrests because the group failed to seek permission to show the report and the case is still being considered in court.
The young people were arrested at the headquarters of the association in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district and then taken for questioning at the Toul Sangker police station.
Police identified those arrested as Muong Sony, the president of the association and a former student of Mr. Ley, Neak Poan, an association member, Heng Samnang, a representative of the Khmer Youth Empire, and Rorn Chanlot, also a member.
Chek Chetra, the secretary general of the association, said the young people were arrested at about 2pm as they prepared for the screening.
“Police told us to hand over some documents in order for them to release the four,” he said.
“But when they came to take the documents, they brought lots of security guards in front of our headquarters, which scared us.”
Mr. Chetra said they considered the arrest to be a threat and an attempt to deprive them of their freedom.
He said the organization wanted to show the investigation to help educate the public about the history relating to the case and Mr. Ley’s work when he was alive.
He said they want the public to help seek justice for Mr. Ley because they said the court process is not providing a clear solution eventhough their action is prejuducial to the legal process.
Mr. Chetra said the people were released after more than three hours of questioning. They were required to sign a contract saying they would ask the authorities in advance before screening such videos.
Russey Keo district police chief Teang Chansa said the youth group had been using their freedom inappropriately and failing to follow administrative procedures, so they had to be educated about law enforcement.
He said: “Citizens should follow administrative procedures because the authorities set these rules to serve the people. Please act in accordance with law enforcement and authorities.”
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the officials intervened to stop the screening because the Al Jazeera investigation could incite the public to lose faith in the jurisdiction of the court.
He added the investigation does not reflect the reality of the case and could confuse the public.
“This ban is in response to the law and to prevent rumors that harm national security,” he said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay had been invited to speak at the screening of the investigation.
He claimed the arrests were without legal basis because the young people were conducting the screening at a private location.
They would have only had to ask for permission if it had been a public event, he said.
“This affects our rights, because the event was being held in a private place,” he said. “The police can only arrest them if there was a court order to ban the organization of the event.”
Al Jazeera’s half-hour investigation, “Cambodia’s Deadly Politics,” was broadcast in January.
It reports what it calls the “suspicious” circumstances surrounding the murder of Mr. Ley, who was shot dead by a gunman on July 10 at a Caltex station coffee shop in Phnom Penh.