Final Appeal Looms for Chea Vichea Convicts

The Supreme Court has set Dec 31 as the date for the final appeal hearing for Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang, the two men convicted in the 2004 murder of prominent union leader Chea Vichea, officials said Thursday.

Controversy has swirled around the case since the arrest of the two men, who are thought by many to be innocent of the killing—which was carried out in broad daylight on the sidewalk outside Wat Lanka.

Numerous parties, including Chea Vichea’s brother, Free Trade Union President Chea Mony, have publicly stated that they do not be­lieve the pair were involved in the assassination and have accused authorities of framing them.

Arrested in January 2004 and sentenced to 20 years in prison each by the Phnom Penh court in August 2005, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had their convictions upheld by the Appeal Court last year despite loud calls for their release.

“I sent the summons to the suspects’ lawyers this week to tell them to attend [on Dec 31],” Supreme Court Prosecutor Chhuon Chantha said by telephone Thursday. “The Supreme Court will examine this case again, and the scheduled hearing [date] will not change,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun’s attorney Hong Kimsoun said he has received the notice from the court and added that he “has enough evidence and witnesses for this hearing.”

“If the court discusses on the rule of law, my client will be released,” he added.

Chea Mony reiterated Thurs­day that he believes the two men to be innocent and cited the numerous witness testimo­n­ies that he said clearly absolve Sok Sam Oeun and Born Sam­nang of any culpability in the assassination.

“I demand that the government and police investigate to find the real murderer who killed my brother on January 22, 2004,” he said.

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