Four senior officials for rights group Adhoc were denied bail for the fourth time by the Court of Appeal on Thursday, extending their detention in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison while awaiting trial to nearly 10 months.
The Supreme Court will take up the bail appeals on Monday, said Lor Chunthy, a lawyer for the four.
Presiding Judge Phou Povsun denied the bail requests because the investigating judge had not yet finished scrutinizing the case, Mr. Chunthy said. The judge also reasoned that as it was a criminal case, he wanted a guarantee that the officials would not flee, he added.
Ny Sokha, Adhoc’s head of monitoring, his deputies Nay Vanda and Yi Soksan, and senior investigator Lim Mony were charged in May for allegedly bribing the mistress of opposition acting CNRP President Kem Sokha to deny an affair.
Ny Chakrya, deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee and a former Adhoc employee, was charged as an accomplice and is being detained at PJ prison in Phnom Penh, but was not included in Thursday’s hearing.
Adhoc spokesman Sam Chankea said that if the prisoners were not going to be used for political negotiations between the ruling CPP and the CNRP, they may as well be released.
“I think that there is no benefit by the court continuing to detain them,” he said.
The group’s detention was extended in October after court officials decided they needed another six months to investigate the case. However, critics claimed the Phnom Penh Municipal Court was deliberately lengthening the investigation period.
Reporters were not allowed into Thursday’s hearing.
Contacted afterward, Judge Povsun confirmed he had upheld the no-bail decision, but declined to comment further.
As he left the courtroom, Mr. Soksan told reporters that he was not surprised, as the courts belonged to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“It is not strange, because Samdech Techo’s [Mr. Hun Sen] court just does like this,” he said.
Ms. Mony claimed she was not granted bail because her detention was a “political issue.”
“The court in our Cambodia, they have knowledge, but they do not use their real will to do their work for the people,” she said.
© 2017, Khy Sovuthy. All rights reserved.