Jailed Journalist’s Appeal Delayed Again

Television personality Soy Sopheap said yesterday he did not attend jailed journalist Ros Sokhet’s now twice-delayed Court of Appeal hearing last Friday because he did not know why he had been summoned.

Mr Sokhet is more than 10 months into a two-year prison sentence for sending a series of disparaging text messages to Mr Sopheap last October, questioning whether the news anchor had extorted money from Ke Dara, the jailed wife of an adviser to National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

Mr Sopheap, however, said yesterday that his complaint was not with Mr Sokhet. “I did not sue him in this case and I don’t know why the appeal court issued a summons in my name,” he said, adding that it was the Interior Ministry that had decided to lodge a complaint against Mr Sokhet.

“I used to give advice to Ros Sokhet’s family in order for them to write a letter to the Interior Ministry, appealing for his release.”

Interior Ministry officials could not be reached yesterday.

The journalist’s appeal hearing was postponed again last Friday, just weeks after it was delayed because the court failed to deliver Mr Sokhet’s summons to Prey Sar prison in time. Court of Appeal Prosecutor Ouk Savuth said yesterday that the hearing would be rescheduled for the next available date.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said yesterday that he would seek to help settle the case after returning from a trip abroad. “I will negotiate Ros Sokhet’s case with Soy Sopheap, but please wait until I am back in Cambodia as right now I am abroad in Hanoi,” he said.

Mr Sokhet, speaking by telephone from Prey Sar prison, said he hoped Mr Kanharith could help bring his ordeal to an end. “I would apologize to Soy Sopheap’s face if I was released,” he said.

Mr Sokhet said that he would not hold any ill feelings if he were set free soon. “I will forget all about my prison time,” he said.


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