Inmates Await Sam Rainsy Trial in Kandal Prison

Two villagers convicted alongside SRP leader Sam Rainsy for illegally removing border posts at the Vietnam-Cambodia border in Svay Rieng province last October have been relocated to Kandal Provincial Prison ahead of their Aug 30 appeal hearing, a court official said yesterday.

Court of Appeal prosecutor Nget Sarath said yesterday that Prum Chea, 41, and Meas Srey, 40, were moved from Svay Rieng Provincial Prison last week.

“They were sent to Kandal province for temporary detention as they wait for their scheduled hearing on August 30,” Mr Sarath said, adding that it would be easier to transport them from there to the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh.

The appeal hearing has been postponed twice already. The two villagers’ lawyer, Sam Sokong, walked out of a previously scheduled appeal hearing last month upon learning that his clients had not been transported to court to testify.

Then, after another lawyer signed on to represent the two villagers at a rescheduled hearing last week because Mr Sokong was traveling abroad, the two villagers asked for a delay because they did not feel their new representative fully understood the case.

Mr Sokong said yesterday that he planned on applying to the court to be reinstated as the villagers’ lawyer. “I just arrived back from overseas, and I plan to apply to the Court of Appeal as soon as possible,” he said.

Mr Sokong was critical of the authorities’ decision to move the prisoners to Kandal Provincial Prison, saying that Prey Sar Prison in Phnom Penh would have been a more appropriate choice in terms of proximity to the court.

In a separate case, Mr Rainsy and his lawyer Choung Choungy have been summoned to appear at a Phnom Penh Municipal Court hearing on Sept 8 over charges that Mr Rainsy spread disinformation and disseminated false documents in February.

The case relates to government-initiated criminal charges against Mr Rainsy over his claims of border encroachment in Svay Rieng province and his posting of maps and other documents on his party’s website in an effort to prove those claims.

 

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