Adhoc Officers, Election Official, Commune Chief to Be Released, CNRP Says

Four human rights workers, an election official and a commune chief jailed in relation to a “prostitution” case centering around opposition leader Kem Sokha will be released this month, the CNRP said on Wednesday, although Interior Minister Sar Kheng was more vague on the issue.

The announcement came after a morning meeting between Mr. Sokha, the minority leader in parliament, and Prime Minister Hun Sen at the National Assembly.

The six prisoners are all accused of conspiring to bribe the alleged mistress of Mr. Sokha to deny the affair during questioning by police and the court, though they say they were simply offering legal or financial support and that the charges were politically motivated.

Long Ry, a CNRP lawmaker and the party’s head of security, said that Seang Chet, a commune chief sentenced this week to five years in prison for delivering $500 to the mother of the alleged mistress, would be released on Wednesday.

Kem Monivithya, the CNRP’s deputy director of public affairs and Mr. Sokha’s daughter, tweeted that the other five would be released in the coming weeks.

“Imprisoned opposition commune chief, 4 rights workers and 1 election official will be free before end of this month,” she wrote.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he was uncertain of the time frame.

“Both parties try to do as much as possible, but I cannot tell what date they will be released,” he said. “But they will be released, I think, as soon as possible.”

Speaking to reporters at the National Assembly after his own meeting with Mr. Sokha, Mr. Kheng, the head of the ruling party’s lawmakers, confirmed that Mr. Hun Sen had agreed to a “resolution” for the six.

“As I know, His Excellency Kem Sokha has talked with Samdech Techo [Mr. Hun Sen] that maybe by the end of December there will be a resolution of the cases of human rights officials and the deputy secretary-general of the NEC,” he said, referring to the National Election Committee.

He said that the release of Mr. Chet, the commune chief, was a done deal.

The four Adhoc officials — Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha and Yi Soksan — along with Ny Chakrya, the election official, had been in jail for 223 days as of Wednesday. They are among 27 political prisoners in the country, according to local rights group Licadho.

Mr. Sovann said that the others still in prison, including about a dozen opposition officials or activists, would be dealt with at a later date.

“Step by step,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

narim@cambodiadaily.com

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