Following bail hearings Monday morning, five opposition political activists and three monks were freed on bail from Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison in the early afternoon.
The activists’ release comes just two days after 10 land-rights activists were released by royal pardon on Saturday.
The decisions to free the 18 activists—widely seen as political prisoners—also come shortly after the CPP and CNRP approved members of the new National Election Committee last week, ending months-long negotiations.
The five opposition figures—Meach Sovannara, Tep Narin, Ouk Pich Samnang, Soum Puthy and Ke Khim—along with the three activist monks—Soeung Hai, Khit Vannak and Sang Kosal—stepped out of Prey Sar at about 1:30 p.m. and were met by more than 100 supporters.
Mr. Sovannara, the highest profile of the activists, said upon emerging from the prison that the cases against them had been politically motivated from the outset, and had therefore required a political resolution.
“In prison, there is no freedom. Outside prison, we have freedom. We will find justice for the Cambodian people so that Khmers will stop arguing with each other,” he said.
The CNRP activists were all charged with leading or participating in an insurrection over their presence at an opposition protest in July that turned violent. Mr. Hai, the monk, was jailed during a demonstration outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in November. The other two monks were arrested on their way to a protest just days later.
Chan Chen, a lawyer for the CNRP, said on Monday afternoon that the activists had arrived at the party’s Phnom Penh headquarters, where a ceremony would be held to celebrate their release.
“The eight have been released and they reached the CNRP headquarters in Chak Angre Loeu,” said Mr. Chen. “We are holding a ceremony in order to release the bad luck from them and bring good luck for them.”
(Additional reporting by Chhorn Chansy)