Court Upholds Sok Hour, Rainsy Border Treaty Convictions

The Appeal Court on Thursday upheld a seven-year prison sentence against an opposition senator for presenting a doctored copy of a border treaty in a video posted to the Facebook page of former CNRP President Sam Rainsy—who also had a five-year sentence against him upheld for being an accomplice.

Hong Sok Hour, who was not present in court, was sentenced for forgery and incitement in November over the video, which included a false version of a 1979 border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam.

cam photo sok hour channa
Opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour was escorted into the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh in June. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Rainsy, as well as two assistants who worked on his Facebook page—all of whom are believed to be in France—were convicted in absentia of being accomplices the following month. Sathya Sambath, accused of producing the video, and Ung Chung Leang, the manager of Mr. Rainsy’s Facebook page, were also handed five-year prison terms but were told they needed to serve just three.

Presiding Judge Seng Sivutha on Thursday upheld all charges.

Prior to the verdict, Mr. Sok Hour’s lawyer made a request to have an expert inspect the treaty to see if the senator had forged it personally—comparing it to a forged exam certificate.

“For example, if I had forged my certificate, then I would have forged the signature or stamp from the education minister, that should be inspected,” lawyer Meng Sopheary said.

However, the judge ruled that such an analysis would not be “following the law.”

On the charges of Mr. Rainsy and his assistants, Judge Sivutha said he believed the post was left on the then-opposition leader’s Facebook under orders, despite Mr. Sok Hour claiming he had not informed Mr. Rainsy that he had planned to post the treaty.

“If there is no order or permission, the two Sam Rainsy assistants would not have followed him,” Mr. Sivutha said.

“The municipal court verdict is correct because at [his] trial, defendant Hong Sok Hour recognized the video posted on Sam Rainsy’s Facebook” page, he added.

Sam Sokong, a lawyer representing both Mr. Sok Hour and Mr. Rainsy, called the verdict an injustice.

“They should have been allowed an expert to analyze the treaty to find out if Mr. Hong Sok Hour forged it or not,” he said.

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