Cambodia jails opposition senator over fake border map with Vietnam on Facebook

By Reuters   November 7, 2016 | 06:12 pm PT
Cambodia jails opposition senator over fake border map with Vietnam on Facebook
Senator Hong Sok Hour of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) is escorted by police officers as he arrives at the Municipal Court of Phnom Penh. Photo by Reuters/Samrang Pring
'He created a fake border map and used it as an incitement to overthrow the government,' said Cambodian government spokesman.

Cambodia on Monday jailed an opposition senator for seven years over his Facebook posting of a fake government pledge to dissolve the border with Vietnam, a verdict opposition members say could fuel tension in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Hong Sok Hour, 59, guilty of forging and publishing public documents, and of incitement to cause instability, when he posted a 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam treaty on social media site Facebook and said the two countries had agreed to dissolve their mutual border.

There was no immediate comment from Sok Hour, a member of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), who was not in court, or represented by lawyers, when the verdict was handed down.

Sok Hour, who is also a French citizen, was detained over the posting in August. Last year, he was arrested following an order from the long-serving Hun Sen after he posted a video clip on the Facebook page of CNRP president Sam Rainsy.

Tension between Cambodia's two main political parties has risen in recent months, with the opposition complaining of a crackdown by the ruling party in a bid to intimidate critics before a general election in 2018.

Hun Sen and his government have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

The court's decision would worsen Cambodia's political crisis, said Son Chhay, a senior CNRP member.

"There won't be any political solution any time soon," Chhay told reporters at the court following the verdict, adding that Sok Hour had admitted to mistakenly using the public documents but that he should not have been given a seven-year term.

International rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, had called for the charges against Sok Hour to be dropped.

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