A Change of Guard

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Saturday, 29 December 2012

CCHR Press Release - CCHR Mourns the Final Nail in the Coffin of Cambodia's Judicial System

CCHR PRESS RELEASE – Phnom Penh, 28 December 2012

CCHR mourns the final nail in the coffin of Cambodia’s judicial system

Yesterday, 27 December 2012, the Court of Appeal confirmed that each of Mr Born Samnang and Mr Sok Sam Oeun would serve out the remainder of their 20-year prison sentences – and pay a fine of 40 million riel in compensation to be paid to the civil party, Mr Chea Mony, the victim’s brother – for the murder of Mr Chea Vichea, President of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia on 22 January 2004.  The sentence followed a second hearing at the Court of Appeal on 7 November 2012.  On 31 December 2008, after the two men had served almost five years of their sentences, the Cambodian Supreme Court decided to release them temporarily and returned the case file back to the Court of Appeal to review any procedural errors.  The two men – widely considered to have been framed for the political murder – were originally arrested on 28 January 2004 and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

CCHR President Ou Virak comments:

This verdict is a joke, a travesty for these two men, and an insult to the memory of Chea Vichea.  It is also ridiculous that this case is still dragging on, almost nine years later.  What is the point in putting these two poor men through the false dawn of an appeal hearing, only for the court to slap them with the same original guilty verdict?  With their watertight alibis, it has been clear since the day of the murder that they are innocent.  Senior people involved with the murder investigation have even said that the two men were framed.  The judiciary’s independence and credibility have sunk to new depths with this verdict.  It will now be impossible to defend or trust the court system until something gives.

For more information, please contact Ou Virak via telephone at +855 (0) 1240 4051 or e-mail at ouvirak@cchrcambodia.org or Senior Consultant Robert Finch via telephone at +855 (0) 7880 9960 or e-mail at robert.finch@cchrcambodia.org.

Please also find this Press Release attached in PDF format, in both Khmer and English.

Kind regards,

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