The Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a two-year prison sentence handed down to opposition activist Ouk Pich Samnang for driving his tuk-tuk through a metal barricade during an anti-eviction protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh villa in October 2014.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Mr. Pich Samnang of intentional violence and obstructing authorities in September after he allegedly injured several district security guards with his tuk-tuk.
At the Appeal Court on Wednesday, Presiding Judge Samreth Sophal said Mr. Pich Samnang would remain behind bars.
“The court decides to uphold the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s verdict,” he said, and “orders Ouk Pich Samnang to continue to be detained in prison.”
After the verdict was announced, Mr. Pich Samnang professed his innocence.
“It is very unjust,” he said. “I cannot accept this decision. I will appeal to the Supreme Court because I did not commit the crime.”
During an appeal hearing last month, Mr. Pich Samnang’s lawyer, Ly Sochetra, argued that the prosecution had failed to present credible evidence that any of the security guards were injured by his client’s tuk-tuk. The court heard testimony from the guards, but Mr. Sochetra said the case file included none of the hospital receipts the guards claimed they had.
Reached by telephone on Wednesday, Judge Sophal said the lower court’s decision was upheld on the strength of what the guards had said.
“The evidence is only the testimony of the victims,” he said, declining to comment further.
Mr. Pich Samnang is also serving a prison sentence for “joining an insurrection” over his involvement in a separate protest at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, also in 2014.
Appeal hearings for the 11 defendants in that case began in March but have been delayed multiple times. Mr. Pich Samnang and eight others were sentenced to seven years in prison; the other three were sentenced to 20.
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