Boeng Kak Activist Tep Vanny Denied Bail in Cursing Case

Prominent land rights campaigner Tep Vanny was denied bail on Thursday by the Court of Appeal, which said the activist would cause violence if released from provisional detention, she told reporters after the court hearing.

Ms. Vanny has been held at Prey Sar prison since her arrest in August over a protest in which she and other black-clad activists cursed court officials for failing to find justice for slain political analyst Kem Ley.

Boeng Kak activist Tep Vanny is led away after a hearing at the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Boeng Kak activist Tep Vanny is led away after a hearing at the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The request for bail, however, relates to charges of intentional violence stemming from a separate protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh villa in March 2013 led by Ms. Vanny and other activists from the capital’s Boeng Kak community.

Coincidentally, Mr. Hun Sen was attending a conference on Thursday across the street from the Appeal Court at the Chaktomuk Theater as Presiding Judge Nguon Rattana handed down the verdict in a closed-door hearing.

About 30 of Ms. Vanny’s supporters attempted to gather outside the court to call for her release after the hearing, but were blocked by district security guards.

“Our activists tried to see Samdech Hun Sen because if he heard from us then he might intervene for the release of Tep Vanny,” said Bov Sophea, who served a six-day jail sentence with Ms. Vanny for insulting court officials.

Judge Rattana could not be reached for comment.

After the hearing, Ms. Vanny told reporters that there was no grounds for the decision to keep her in prison.

“The Court of Appeal denied the bail request because they never follow procedure,” she said while being led to a prison van. “They rejected bail because they worry that I will cause violence. In fact, those causing the violence are the Daun Penh district security guards.”

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said the government had “manufactured” a politically motivated case against her as a warning to other critics.

(Additional reporting by Sonia Kohlbacher)

odom@cambodiadaily.com

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