Man posing as woman on social media charged with making false allegations of police misconduct

Picture of fake 'Molika' (left) used by the charged person identified as Yim Sophana (right). - Phnom Penh Police

PHNOM PENH: A man accused of faking a story about inappropriate behaviour by a senior traffic police officer was charged with malicious denunciation and forgery and placed in pre-trial detention by the Phnom Penh Municipal court this week. If found guilty, he is facing up to three years in prison.

A Feb 17 statement by the court identified the suspect as Yim Sophana, 34, who created a social media account using the name “Kong Molina” (named as “Molika” in the police report), using a profile picture of a beautiful woman to attract public attention.

Earlier this month, the suspect used the fake account to message a Telegram group named “Our traffic safety”. Posing as “Molina”, he accused Phnom Penh traffic officer Khieu Soklay, who is posted along Russian Blvd near the Ministry of National Defence headquarters, of a fine for running a yellow light, and later posted screenshots claiming the officer had offered to refund the fine if “she” went on a date with him.

“Following a thorough investigation, we have identified Sophana as the man who fabricated the fake social media posts. The alleged incidents never took place, and Soklay is not guilty of the misconduct he was accused of,” said the statement.

It explained that Sophana has been charged with malicious denunciation under articles 311 and 312 of the Criminal Code, as well as forgery, under articles 626 and 627.

“Following initial questioning and having reviewed the evidence, the investigating judge has decided to place the Sophana in pre-trial detention, while further questioning is conducted,” it added.

The case has attracted widespread attention from the public, in part because of the attractiveness of the fake profile picture, and in part because of screenshots of an alleged series of flirtatious messages.

In the initial complaint, posted to the “Our traffic safety” social media group on February 2, “Molika” claimed she had been driving her sick mother to the hospital, when she was stopped by the police for driving through a yellow light.

She was then asked to pay a fine of 250,000 riel (around $60), but was able to bargain it down to just $20, after a conversation with Soklay, who was in plain clothes.

According to screenshots which were shared widely across social media, on the evening of the same day, she was invited for a meal by the police officer, who also promised to return the fine.

Phnom Penh Police chief Chuon Narin condemned the case as damaging the good reputation of the capital’s police officers, and called for the impersonator to come forward and confess.

On Feb 13, he revealed Sophana, as the fabricator of the entire tale.

“This is the face of the writer who wrote the fictitious “Molika” story which went viral. He is a civilian,” he said via his own social media, while calling on the public not to believe everything they saw online.

“I would like to remind social media users to think twice and examine all aspects of a post before attacking any individual or institution. They can cause damage to the dignity and honour of said individuals and institutions, as this case clearly shows,” he added.

The Cambodian Criminal Code defines “Malicious denunciation” as the denunciation of a person or institution, which is known to be false and liable to cause criminal or disciplinary sanctions. This is applicable when it is intended to encourage any member of the authorities to take action. This includes judges, police officers, an employer or any person having the power to refer it to the competent authorities.

The penalty for malicious denunciation is imprisonment between one month and one year.

Sophana could be facing up to three years in jail if found guilty of forgery.

The code defines forgery as any fraudulent alteration of the truth which is liable to cause harm, by means of false documents or other mediums of expression. - The Phnom Penh Post/ANN

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Cambodia , Molika , police , misconduct , court , social media , fake


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