Justice Minister Thanked for Intervention in Court Case

Ros Sokhet To Appeal Conviction at Supreme Court

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith on Friday sent a letter to Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana thanking him for his help in securing the release of jailed journalist Ros Sokhet.

Mr Sokhet was summarily charged with disinformation, tried and imprisoned last November for sending disparaging text messages to media personality Soy Sopheap. He was freed late last month after the Court of Appeal upheld his conviction but shortened his two-year sentence.

Mr Kanharith wrote to the Justice Ministry on Oct 14 requesting that the minister help secure the journalist’s release. It remains unclear whether or how Mr Vong Vathana did in fact intervene.

“I would like to thank you very much for helping to intervene to release Mr Ros Sokhet, a journalist, to be cleared from the court case,” Mr Kanharith wrote in the letter. “By your Excellency’s mercy, now Mr Ros Sokhet can return to stay with his family.”

Sam Pracheameanith, chief of Cabinet at the Justice Ministry, declined yesterday to specify what action the Justice Minister had taken in the Ros Sokhet case, saying only that he had “applied the existing procedure as stipulated.”

Mr Pracheameanith did, however, note that there was a legal provision dating from the 1980s allowing the Justice Minister to ask courts for reduced sentences.

“According to a decree during the State of Cambodia, the Justice Minister has the right to request for reducing sentences of convicts as stipulated by the law,” he said.

Mr Kanharith could not be reached for comment yesterday and did not respond to e-mailed questions. Court of Appeal Judge Pol Sam Oeun said he could not comment on the case.

Reached yesterday, Mr Sokhet said he did not know how Mr Vong Vathana had intervened in his case but called such interventions necessary.

“In Cambodia, we have a tradition of intervention because the courts are under the control of the CPP, the ruling party…so for anyone who wants to be released if the case is related to politics you have to get an intervention from a CPP official to be freed,” he said.

Mr Sokhet added that he planned to file an appeal against his conviction with the Supreme Court today.


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