A CAMBODIAN court has sentenced an opposition lawmaker who has been a strong critic of the government’s handling of demarcating the border with neighboring Vietnam to two and a half years in prison over online postings he made.
Um Sam An is the latest member of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to be sentenced for making comments on the politically sensitive topic and implying that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government failed to counter land encroachment by Vietnam, Cambodia’s traditional enemy.
BREAKING: Municipal court today's sentencing CNRP's lawmaker, Um Sam An imprisonment 2y&6month & fine 4M Riel over forgery dissemination. pic.twitter.com/yaGsHWz3C5
— Chenda KUN (@ChendaKun) October 10, 2016
In handing out the sentence on Monday, Judge Heng Sokna of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court said the accusations made by Um Sam An in Facebook posts last year aimed to cause chaos in society.
“Um Sam An’s crimes caused severe social instability and is a racial incitement,” judge Heng Sokna said in reading out his verdict, as quoted by Reuters.
According to the news agency, Sam An was also fined $1,000.
The 43-year-old politician was arrested in April after returning from overseas. Activists say his arrest and detention is part of a crackdown on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s critics as local and general elections loom.
Hong Sok Hour, another CNRP lawmaker, is in prison pending his trial for allegedly posting a fake government pledge to dissolve Cambodia’s border with Vietnam, Reuters reported.
Territorial claims and border demarcation has been a long-standing issue between Cambodia and its neighbours Vietnam and Thailand.
Additional reporting from the Associated Press