Denied Bail Once More, Activist Tep Vanny a ‘Political Slave’

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a bail request from prominent land rights activist Tep Vanny, as well as the appeals of five opposition CNRP officials, all of them among the 26 people rights group Licadho has identified as political prisoners.

“The court did not allow me bail because they are using me as a political slave,” Ms. Vanny said while being escorted out of the courtroom by prison guards. “It is very unjust for me because I did not destroy the nation.”

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Prominent land rights activist Tep Vanny cries inside a holding cell at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Presiding Judge Kim Sathavy said Ms. Vanny’s second appeal for bail was denied because her trial date had been set by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and she should be detained until the hearing.

The trial in the case, which relates to charges of intentional violence over a 2013 protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh villa, is scheduled for February 3, according to her attorney.

In upholding the lower court’s bail denial, Judge Sathavy said the Supreme Court “thinks the verdict of the Appeal Court issued on November 17, 2016, is correct according to the law.”

When deciding to deny her bail, the Court of Appeal said the 35-year-old activist would cause violence if released from provisional detention, Ms. Vanny told reporters at the time.

“They rejected bail because they worry that I will cause violence. In fact, those causing the violence are the Daun Penh district security guards,” she said.

In a separate case, Presiding Judge Soeng Panhavuth denied the appeal of five defendants whose names were removed from a complaint that originally included 11 jailed CNRP officials and activists convicted over a violent protest at Freedom Park in July 2014.

The five appealed to have their names included in an earlier complaint seeking to nullify an earlier Phnom Penh Municipal Court verdict because the defendants’ lawyers were not present at the time of their convictions.

Citing procedural errors, Judge Panhavuth said the Supreme Court “received the appeal from lawyers…but rejected it because it is illegal.”

Only one of the five defendants, Ouk Pich Samnang, appeared in the courtroom and said he had come to expect inequity from the courts.

“I come here to receive injustice,” he said. “We put no hope in the Supreme Court.”

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