The Court of Appeal again refused to release opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour from prison Thursday, with a lawyer for the 59-year-old, who has immunity from prosecution, saying he is considering taking the case to the Supreme Court.
The court rejected Mr. Sok Hour’s request for release pending his trial after also turning down a procedural appeal on September 2 asking that he be released due to his immunity as a senator.
Mr. Sok Hour’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, said the court refused his client’s release so that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court could continue investigating his forgery and incitement case, and because it claimed he could commit additional crimes if he were freed.
“The court has decided to uphold the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision not to grant him bail, and therefore this verdict has not allowed the accused, His Excellency Hong Sok Hour, to be released on bail,” said Mr. Sokong.
Mr. Sok Hour stands charged with forgery and incitement for presenting a fake diplomatic treaty in a video posted on Facebook, which angered Prime Minister Hun Sen, leading him to order that the senator be arrested immediately.
Mr. Sokong said there was no need for the courts to continue holding Mr. Sok Hour, as the investigative portion of the case against him had already been officially concluded by the municipal court.
“The lawyers will meet together, and meet with him, about whether to appeal to the Supreme Court over the verdict to continue detaining him,” he said.
After the appeal Thursday, Mr. Sok Hour’s wife, Kun Lum Ang, said she still believed her husband was incarcerated illegally.
“Our country sticks to democracy, so the court should not put my husband, Hong Sok Hour, who has immunity, in prison, because he is a lawmaker, and when they arrested him it was procedurally wrong,” Ms. Lum Ang said. “This shows that Cambodia still does not have true democracy.”
Officials at the Appeal Court could not be reached.