CNRP District Official Denied Bail Over July ‘Insurrection’

A day after prominent CNRP official Meach Sovannara was arrested and jailed for his alleged role in clashes at the July 15 protest at Freedom Park, the Appeal Court on Wednesday denied a bail request for the only other opposition official still in prison over the confrontation.

On September 29, Soum Vuthy, an opposition member of the council for Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district, became the 12th CNRP official arrested over the July violence in which protesters fought back against the stick-wielding security guards sent in to disperse them.

Chbar Ampov district councilor Soum Vuthy, a member of the opposition CNRP, is escorted by police at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh on Wednesday following his failed bid to secure bail. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Chbar Ampov district councilor Soum Vuthy, a member of the opposition CNRP, is escorted by police at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh on Wednesday following his failed bid to secure bail. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied Mr. Vuthy bail on October 8, despite having released all 11 other opposition officials following the July 22 political agreement between Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP President Sam Rainsy that led the opposition to end its boycott of parliament.

Mr. Vuthy’s lawyer, San Sudalen, said Presiding Judge Seng Sivutha on Wednesday upheld the municipal court’s decision due to the severity and number of charges against his client.

“He [Judge Sivutha] decided to keep the defendant in jail because…he was charged on multiple counts,” Mr. Sudalen said.

“We will appeal for bail to the Supreme Court, but I am not sure yet about the date because we will discuss it with other lawyers for more details,” he added.

The charges against Mr. Vuthy include joining an insurrection, aggravated intentional use of violence and violence against a public official, that together are punishable by more than 20 years in prison.

Appeal Court prosecutor Im Sophan confirmed that Mr. Vuthy’s bail was denied but declined to comment further.

Judge Sivutha declined to comment on the case, citing one of the three controversial judicial reform laws passed by the CPP-only National Assembly in May.

“I cannot comment. Based on the new Law on the Status of Judges and Prosecutors, we must ask permission from the Supreme Council of Magistracy,” he said.

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