The families of five men jailed in 2002 on charges of involvement in the Cambodian Freedom Fighters are appealing for pardons in light of the recent release from jail of critics of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The CFF staged an attack on government buildings in Phnom Penh in November of 2000, but the opposition has alleged that convicted activists Bun Chanto, Tomlob Mel, Chan Bunkheng, Seng Narin and Hem Em were framed.
Pailin municipal Sam Rainsy Party president Ven Tara, who is also Hem Em’s wife, said she is appealing on behalf of the five families to Hun Sen to ask King Norodom Sihamoni to grant the five pardons.
“My husband’s arrest was politically motivated-there was no evidence to prove my husband was connected to the CFF,” Ven Tara said. “My husband’s case is just like Sam Rainsy and Cheam Channy’s, so the King should grant him a pardon.”
Ven Tara added that she had appealed to CTN newsreader Soy Sopheap to act as an intermediary was her proposal was rejected.
Soy Sopheap said this case was beyond his help.
“This case is different from human rights activists and Sam Rainsy,” he said. “I don’t have the ability.”
Cambodian Center for Human Rights President Kem Sokha said the five suspects told him of their innocence during his recent stint at Prey Sar prison. Kem Sokha added that the government should reinvestigate their case.
Free Trade Union President Chea Mony also said that he would ask for the release of convicts Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang from prison, explaining that he believes them innocent of killing his brother Chea Vichea.
The director of the Cambodian Defenders Project-coincidentally also named Sok Sam Oeun-said the Chea Vichea case is in the hands of the Supreme Court.
The recent investigation into Phnom Penh police for crimes including the killing of Judge Sok Sethamony might unearth evidence that vindicates the two jailed men, Sok Sam Oeun said.
But he added that requesting a pardon might appear to be an admission of guilt.