The Court of Appeal was due to hear an appeal today from SRP leader Sam Rainsy, who is seeking to overturn a ruling by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which rejected his request form a committee to review opposition party evidence of border encroachment by Vietnam, Mr Rainsy’s lawyer said.
“I have received an invitation to attend the hearing on Tuesday. My client has asked me to appeal against the municipal court’s decision,” lawyer Chou Choungy said yesterday.
The government on Feb 26 lodged a complaint against Mr Rainsy, accusing him of spreading disinformation and disseminating false documents in his attempts to prove Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodia’s eastern border. After Mr Rainsy was charged with the alleged crimes on March 12, Mr Choungy in April called on the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to form a committee to review the opposition party’s evidence of border encroachment.
“If my client looses at the Appeal Court, I will go to the Supreme Court,” Mr Choungy said.
Judge Chuon Sunleng said the law allowed for the hearing today to be held in camera.
“The appeal court hearing will not be open to the public,” the judge said, but declined to explain why the hearing would be held behind closed doors.
By law, court hearings are to be held in public, with permissible exceptions to protect public order or morality.
Mr Choungy said that although it was not against law to conduct the hearing behind closed doors, it did not paint a very fair picture.
“A nonpublic hearing is not wrong, but it does not convey good sportsmanship to conduct the trial in this manner,” he said.
“The government always does things in a secret manner. This is a political issue,” SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said.
In a separate case, the Court of Appeal on July 6 is to hear an appeal by Mr Rainsy against his January conviction for incitement and damaging property in the uprooting of border demarcation posts in Svay Rieng province in October, Mr Choungy added.