Anti-Eviction Activist Yorm Bopha Freed on Bail

The Supreme Court on Friday temporarily freed jailed Boeng Kak anti-eviction activist Yorm Bopha on bail, but sent her case back to the Court of Appeal to be reinvestigated.

During the hearing, which lasted an hour and a half, dozens of monks and supporters of the jailed activist rallied outside the Supreme Court building where they banged drums, gave speeches and marched in procession on the streets around the courthouse.

Jailed anti-eviction activist Yorm Bopha arrives at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh to attend a final hearing in her case this morning. Concluding the court, the presiding judges ruled to temporarily free Ms. Bopha on bail, but ordered her case to be reinvestigated by the Appeal Court. (Lauren Crothers/The Cambodia Daily)
Jailed anti-eviction activist Yorm Bopha arrives at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh to attend a final hearing in her case Friday morning. Concluding the court, the presiding judges ruled to temporarily free Ms. Bopha on bail, but ordered her case to be reinvestigated by the Appeal Court. (Lauren Crothers/The Cambodia Daily)

The panel of five judges took only 15 minutes to deliberate their decision.

“The Supreme Court decides to temporarily release Yorm Bopha on bail and sends this case to the Appeal Court to reinvestigate and hear the case again,” Presiding Judge Khim Pon said.

Ms. Bopha was arrested on September 4, 2012, and convicted of ordering an attack on two motorcycle taxi drivers. She was originally handed a three-year prison sentence, but the Appeal Court suspended one year after upholding the verdict in June.

Human rights groups and fellow anti-eviction activists have long said the charges against Ms. Bopha are politically motivated and without substance.

The mother-of-one was visibly unhappy with the outcome of the hearing at the court Friday morning, during which she had maintained her composure, occasionally turning around to smile at her supporters in the courtroom.

“I am disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision,” she said after the verdict was read out.

“Even though I am free, my case is still before the court.”

She was bundled into a waiting police van to be taken back to prison until her release is made official.

Boeng Kak activist Tep Vanny also had mixed feelings about the decision, saying that on one hand she was happy with the bail decision, but frustrated that the case remains before the courts.

“I’m afraid that Yorm Bopha could be arrested again,” she said.

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