A court in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh sentenced a Cambodian woman to a one-year jail term on Thursday for posting a video on her Facebook page accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of ordering the murder more than a year ago of government critic Kem Ley.
Hin Van Sreypov, aged 37 and a former member of the now-banned Cambodia National Rescue Party, was also handed a one million riel (U.S. $249) fine following her conviction in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on a charge of “incitement to commit a felony,” according to local media reports.
No explanation of the charge or description of the felony she had allegedly attempted to incite was provided by authorities, the Cambodian newspaper Phnom Penh Post said in a Jan. 11 report.
Popular political commentator Kem Ley was gunned down in broad daylight in Phnom Penh on July 10, 2016, just days after discussing on an RFA Khmer call-in show a report by the London-based group Global Witness detailing the wealth of the family of Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for 32 years.
Authorities arrested Hin Van Sreyov, also known as Heng Leakhena, on July 12, 2017 at a local bus station after she posted an accusation of Hun Sen’s involvement in the murder on her Facebook page on July 9.
She had just attended a ceremony in the Tram Kak district of Cambodia’s Takeo province marking the first anniversary of Kem Ley’s death.
Though a former soldier was sentenced in March 2017 to life in prison for the crime, government involvement in Kem Ley’s slaying is still widely suspected, with at least one other Cambodian now serving time behind bars for asserting Hun Sen’s connection to the crime.
In August 2017, social and political commentator Kim Sok was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of defamation and incitement and ordered to pay hefty fines both to Hun Sen and to the country’s government, sources said in earlier reports.
Kim Sok was jailed on Feb. 17 after Hun Sen accused him of implying that his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had orchestrated Kem Ley’s murder, though Kim Sok said that he had only been repeating what many Cambodians believe.
Rights groups frequently accuse Cambodia’s judiciary of lacking independence, saying the government seeks to limit freedom of expression by using the courts to stifle criticism of Hun Sen and the CPP.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Written in English by Richard Finney.