As Appeal Looms, No Summons for Jailed Journalist

With his case apparently due before the Court of Appeal today, jailed journalist Ros Sokhet and his lawyer claimed yesterday that they still had not received a summons to appear.

Speaking from Prey Sar prison yesterday, Mr Sokhet said he did not know if the court meant to delay his case or sentence him in absentia.

“I call on the appeal court to finish my case justly,” he said.

Mr Sokhet is almost 10 months into a two-year prison sentence for sending a series of disparaging text messages to television personality and well-known CPP supporter Soy Sopheap.

On Aug 2 Uong Natry, a clerk at the appeal court, said that Mr Sokhet’s case was scheduled for today. Mr Natry could not be immediately reached for comment yesterday.

Mr Sokhet said that if his appeal was not successful he would not pursue the case any further.

“I will not continue to the Supreme Court because I have served almost 10 months in prison,” he said.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Sopheap said that the decision to pursue the case was made by the Interior Ministry, not him.

“I didn’t sue Ros Sokhet, but I took this case to the Interior Ministry to search for the people who threatened me by message four times,” he said.

Mr Sokhet said he had spoken to Mr Sopheap on July 7, and Mr Sopheap had explained the situation to him at that time.

“If the government sued me then please release me…. I appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen to please help me,” he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on the case.

“This was a complaint between individuals,” he said.

The charge against Mr Sokhet stems from four text messages sent to Mr Sopheap in October 2009, questioning whether the news anchor had extorted money from Ke Dara, the jailed wife of an adviser to National Assembly President Heng Samrin. Ms Dara was sentenced to 18 months in jail for shooting into the air during a traffic altercation.

 

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