Court Denies Bail for Opposition Senator

The Appeal Court on Wednesday rejected a second request by opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour to overturn a municipal court decision to deny him bail after he was arrested in August for presenting a fake border treaty in a video posted to Facebook.

Presiding Judge Plang Samnang said by telephone after the hearing that Mr. Sok Hour could not be released because his case was still being investigated.

“The Appeal Court does not allow him bail because the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued the verdict to reinvestigate,” Judge Samnang said, adding that he would release the full reasoning behind the decision in the next two or three days.

The Appeal Court has now rejected three requests for Mr. Sok Hour’s release. On September 2, judges turned down a procedural appeal asking that he be released due to his immunity as a senator. The court rejected the senator’s first bail appeal on September 18 pending his trial, which was delayed last month because investigations into the origins of the doctored treaty were still underway.

Choung Choungy, Mr. Sok Hour’s lawyer, said after Wednesday’s hearing that the decision was unfair.

“I think that it is not justice for Mr. Hong Sok Hour because he is old and he is a senator too. The Senate has still not removed his immunity,” he said, adding that he would talk to his client about filing an appeal with the Supreme Court.

In a session two days after Mr. Sok Hour’s arrest, senators from the ruling CPP decided that it was unnecessary to lift his immunity because of a clause in the Constitution that allows for the arrest of lawmakers if they are caught in “flagrante delicto,” or in the act of a crime.

On Mr. Hun Sen’s orders, the senator was arrested on August 15 and charged with fraud and incitement. The prime minister defended the arrest last month during a speech to Cambodian students and expatriates in France.

“Please do not be confused about why he was arrested even though he had immunity,” he said. “We respect immunity, but in cases of flagrante delicto, they can be arrested immediately.”

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