Court Denies Rong Chhun’s Appeal for Bail

The Appeals Court on Friday de­nied bail to Rong Chhun, the jailed president of the Cambodian Inde­pendent Teachers’ Association, following a hearing at which the presiding judges claimed that freeing the suspect could jeopardize the court investigation.

Judge Um Sarith rejected a pro­mise by Rong Chhun that he would not flee the country if given temporary release before the trial hearing and would be spending his time car­ing for his ailing mother who lives in Kandal province’s Sa’ang dis­trict, said his lawyer Te Cham­nan.

Te Chamnan described the de­ci­sion to deny bail as unjust and said he plans to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

“By law, Rong Chhun could be allowed released on bail because his 82-years-old mother is ailing and his brother has firmly guaranteed to the court that he will not run away,” Te Chamnan said.

As he was bustled from the court­­room to a waiting vehicle by pri­­son­ officers and police, Rong Chhun shouted to reporters: “This de­­cision of the Appeals Court is very unjust to me. [The Con­sti­tu­tion] guarantees freedom of expression.”

Rong Chhun was jailed under pre-trial detention on Oct 15 following a defamation case lodged by Prime Minister Hun Sen over al­leg­ed statements related to the supplementary border treaty with Viet­nam that was signed into force by King Norodom Sihamoni on Wed­nes­day.

The lawsuit also named three others accused of defaming Hun Sen: Ear Channa, deputy secretary-general of the Student Movement for Democracy, Men Nath, president of the Independent Civil Ser­vants Association, and Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cam­bodia. All three have fled the country fearing arrest and imprisonment.

Government lawyer Suong Chan­­than welcomed the continued detention of Rong Chhun, saying that the government had asked the Appeals Court to keep the teachers’ association president in prison.

“I am satisfied with the decision, because this was a proposal from the government,” he said.


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