Defense Needs More Time Translating Gov’t Evidence Into Thai
The extradition hearing for a Sam Rainsy Party activist being sought in Thailand by Cambodian officials for the 1998 Siem Reap rocket attack has been postponed for two the three months, party members said Wednesday.
Sok Yoeun, who was arrested in Thailand last year after fleeing Battambang province, will remain in Thai custody pending two hearings, scheduled for Sept 4 and Oct 10, opposition party parliamentarian Tioulong Saumura said.
Sok Yoeun’s lawyer told Thai court officials he needed more time to have evidence submitted by the Cambodian government translated into Thai, Tioulong Saumura said. Thai authorities will question Cambodian government witnesses in September and defense witnesses during the following month’s hearing, she said.
She said she did not know the names of any of the witnesses expected to be called.
The Cambodian government has failed to reveal exactly what evidence it has implicating Sok Yoeun, though authorities claim audio and video recorded confessions exist.
Cambodian government officials have accused Sok Yoeun of helping organize the grenade attack, which has been called by some an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Sok Yoeun left the country after authorities arrested two other Sam Rainsy Party members late last year, but was detained in Thailand and served six months in jail for immigration violations.
After his release he was immediately re-arrested and is being held pending the outcome of his extradition hearing.
“I am confident that the Thai judges will listen to humanitarian organizations…that the Cambodian courts are subject to political interference,” said opposition party boss Sam Rainsy, who continues to claim the government’s extradition attempt is a form of political intimidation.
“I hope Sok Yoeun will not be sent back to Cambodia because he will not be given a fair trial,” Sam Rainsy said. Party members say Sok Yoeun, who has been granted “person of concern” status by the UN, is prepared to leave for a neutral third country, possibly in Scandinavia, if Cambodia loses its extradition bid.