3 Groups Slam Court’s Ruling in Chea Vichea Case

The International Labor Orga­ni­zation and two international rights groups issued separate statements Wednesday condemning the Ap­peals Court decision to uphold a guilty verdict for the two men convicted for the 2004 killing of Chea Vichea.

The statements are the latest in a wave of condemnation by local and international rights groups toward the Appeals Court and the government for the 20-year prison sentences being served by Born Sam­nang and Sok Sam Oeun, who many believe to be innocent.

“The ILO deplores the absence of clarity around the murder of Chea Vichea, which can only promote an atmosphere of impunity that reinforces a climate of violence and insecurity,” the ILO statement said.

The ILO called on the government to reopen the investigation into Chea Vichea’s killing.

National Assembly President and Honorary CPP President Heng Samrin said that the government’s hands were tied as it is up to the courts to reopen the case if they choose to do so.

“The government does not pressure the court,” he said.

The Observatory for the Protec­tion of Human Rights Defenders—a Geneva-based joint venture of the World Organization Against Tor­ture and the International Fede­ra­tion for Human Rights—also is­sued a statement blasting the Appeals Court decision.

“The Observatory condemns the [use] of the judiciary which seems to aim at shielding the real perpetrators of Mr Chea Vichea’s murder,” the statement said.

The Bangkok-based Asian Fo­rum for Human Rights and Devel­opment wrote in a faxed statement that the “government of Cambodia must prove to the international community its commitment to respecting the rule of law.”

Judge Thou Mony—one of the three judges on the Appeals Court pa­nel that upheld the guilty verdict and who is also a trial chamber jud­ge for the stalled Khmer Rouge tribunal—said that the case is no longer a matter for the Appeals Court.

“If the Supreme Court decides to have more investigation, it would be the higher court’s decision,” he said.


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