The Adhoc 5, a group of current and former rights workers who have spent more than a year in pre-trial detention on bribery charges widely seen as politically motivated, has been released on bail this evening following orders from the court.
Taing Sunlay, director of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said Investigating Judge Theam Chan Pisith had completed his investigation into the five officials and decided to have them release due to their ill health.
“The investigating judge finished his investigations into the cases and because they fell sick and collapsed, they are set free. But their trial will proceed as normal,” Mr. Sunlay said, adding that their trial date has not yet been set.
At PJ prison in Phnom Penh at about 8:30 p.m., Ny Chakrya, a former Adhoc employee who has since taken up a post at the National Election Committee (NEC), emerged to a gathered crowd of family, media and former colleagues.
“I am happy,” Mr. Chakrya said. “I will continue my work.”
Sam Sokhong, Mr. Chakrya’s lawyer, said he welcomed the decision to release his client on bail.
Four current employees of rights group Adhoc—Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan and Lim Mony—were seen walking out of Prey Sar prison after 7 p.m.
Y Rin, spokesman for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said earlier that Investigating Judge Theam Chan Piseth had issued a letter approving their release on bail today.
The orders were posted to government mouthpiece Fresh News. The judge did not offer the reason for the release in his decisions.
“We’re sending the letter to the general department of prisons today,” he said.
Chan Kimseng, who heads the prisons department at the Ministry of Interior, said earlier in the evening that he had yet to receive the letter but added that guards at Phnom Penh’s PJ and Prey Sar prisons, where the five are being held, have been put on alert for its arrival.
Of the five, Mr. Sokha, Mr. Vanda, Mr. Soksan and Ms. Mony are accused of bribing the alleged mistress of then-deputy CNRP president Kem Sokha to deny an affair. Mr. Chakrya is accused of being an accomplice. All five deny the charges, insisting they were only providing the young woman with legal assistance.
They were arrested in April 2016 and have twice had their pre-trial detentions extended.