One day after King Norodom Sihamoni ordered the reduction of Cheam Channy’s jail sentence from seven to three years, Sam Rainsy Party officials said the former lawmaker was in high spirits on Friday.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, who visited Cheam Channy at the military prison on the one-year anniversary of his detention, said Cheam Channy was elated by the news.
“This was the first time that I saw him so happy,” Son Chhay said, adding that Cheam Channy is optimistic that he will be released even sooner, after speaking on the phone to Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday.
“Cheam Channy told us that he received a phone call from Prime Minister Hun Sen during the time of a visit by [Cambodian Center for Human Rights President] Kem Sokha and the prime minister told him he would work out the reduction of his prison term and later on release,” Son Chhay said.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap confirmed that the sentence could be further cut.
“If there is no further disturbance to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s feelings, he could be given a sooner release from prison,” he said. “Everything has calmed down now. If the wife of Cheam Channy keeps the situation nice and keeps asking the Prime Minister for leniency, I hope there will be a release sooner.”
Hun Sen wrote a letter to the King this week asking for the four-year sentence reduction.
Cheam Channy’s wife Chum Sieng Lieng praised Hun Sen for his move and called on the international community not to pressure the government.
Asked if Cheam Channy’s release could lead to the activation his illegal army and endanger national security, Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng replied: “I am not tricked [by the question].”
Cheam Yeap said a liberated Cheam Channy would pose no danger.
“We have no worry about the release of Excellency Cheam Channy, because we would prevent and control any army,” he said.