The lawyer for former Sam Rainsy Party activist Sok Yoeun, who has been in a Bangkok prison for three years, said Sunday he will appeal to the Military Court to allow his client to remain out of detention for health reasons if he is repatriated to Cambodia.
“If he remains in prison, he might die because he is very sick and old,” Mao Sophearith said.
Sok Yoeun suffers from hepatitis, the lawyer said.
A Thai appeals court ruled on Nov 28 that Sok Yoeun should be extradited to Cambodia to stand trial for his alleged involvement in a Sept 24, 1998, rocket-propelled grenade attack in Siem Reap on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s motorcade. Ruling party officials have called the attack, which killed a bystander, an assassination attempt. No one in Hun Sen’s entourage was injured.
Human rights groups and those aligned with the opposition party have said the case against Sok Yoeun was contrived for political reasons.
Sok Yoeun was arrested on Dec 24, 1999, for illegal entry into Thailand, where he was seeking asylum. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees had granted him refugee status the previous month.
Regional human rights organization Forum Asia has reported that a Thai-Cambodian intelligence officer, Suwan Puthi, forced a videotaped confession from Sok Yoeun on Oct 23 and Oct 24, 1999.
Forum Asia also said Sok Yoeun, who is from Battambang town, was in Phnom Penh at the time of the Siem Reap attack.
The monthly bulletin of King Norodom Sihanouk, issued last week, included a letter from Hun Sen that said the premier would not oppose a royal pardon request for Sok Yoeun, should he be convicted. Hun Sen also wrote to the King that he would allow Sok Yoeun to remain out of detention to receive medical care.
Hun Sen’s adviser on human rights, Om Yentieng, said Sunday that the government still does not know when Sok Yoeun will be returned to Cambodia.