Cheam Channy To Be Freed From Prison Today

Jailed opposition party member Cheam Channy is scheduled to be re­­leased from military prison this morning, following a pardon is­sued Sun­day evening by King No­rodom Sihamoni.

“I am very happy—just like I was reborn,” said Cheam Chan­ny’s wife, Chum Sieng Lieng. “I thank­ed King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen. I will never forget their kindness.”

The royal decree, dated Sunday and signed by the King, absolves Cheam Channy entirely.

King Sihamoni also issued a par­don to opposition leader Sam Rain­sy, paving the way for his return from self-imposed exile in France.

The pardon comes shortly after Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a let­ter Thursday asking King Siha­mo­­ni to reduce Cheam Chan­ny’s sev­en-year prison sentence by more than half.

Friday marked the one-year an­ni­versary of Cheam Channy’s ar­rest and detention in military pri­son, where he was incarcerated af­ter be­ing found guilty of fraud and form­­ing a so-called illegal armed force last August.

Cheam Channy, a former oppo­si­tion party lawmaker and a civilian, was found guilty in the mili­tary court on Aug 9 of forming a se­cret army and of tricking people in­to buy­ing positions in that army.

Various rights organizations, as well as the US State Department and the EU, have condemned his de­tention. Both the US and the EU have said the court decision raised ques­tions about the competence and independence of Cam­bodia’s judiciary system.

News of Cheam Channy’s up­coming release was met with surprise Sunday evening.

“It was a fast process that I didn’t anticipate,” said Kem Sokha, director of the Cambodian Center for Hu­­man Rights, who was re­cent­ly re­­leased from prison following the drop­­ping of defamation charges against him by Hun Sen.

“As Prime Minister Hun Sen has stated, I like dialogue between Khmer and Khmer,” Kem Sokha said.

“I don’t like the phrase ‘inter­national pressure,” he added.



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