Appeal Court Upholds Detention of Activist Monk

The Appeal Court on Thursday rejected an appeal seeking the release of an activist monk arrested and charged with illegal weapons possession and incitement after he was photographed holding what was supposedly a toy gun, his lawyer said.

“The Appeal Court said they have not finished the investigation,” said Choung Chungy, the lawyer for Horn Sophanny, who has been held in provisional detention in the Battambang provincial prison since June 21.

cam photo monk fresh news
Horn Sophanny poses with what is supposedly a toy gun. (Fresh News)

Mr. Sophanny, 24, was arrested and defrocked after he failed to appear in court in April over photos he posted online that show him playing with a plastic gun, according to But Buntenh, the president of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice. Mr. Sophanny has been a member of the network since 2013.

Mr. Chungy said he had made two separate requests seeking the release of his client. The first, to have Mr. Sophanny granted bail, was rejected by the provincial court on July 10 and would be heard by the Appeal Court at an unspecified later date, he said. The other, objecting to Mr. Sophanny’s detention, was once denied by the provincial court and again by the Appeal Court on Thursday.

Touch Tharith, an Appeal Court spokesman, confirmed that Presiding Judge Van Vibol had rejected Mr. Chungy’s appeal on Thursday by upholding the lower court’s decision.

Mr. Chungy said he would pursue the appeal in the Supreme Court. “The detention is not right. It is an abuse of the law,” he said.

“I regret that the court charged a monk for playing with a toy gun. The Appeal Court needs to consider the oddness of the charges, but they didn’t consider right or wrong,” Mr. Chungy added.

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