With the trial of SRP President Sam Rainsy and five other villagers in Svay Rieng province starting tomorrow, the opposition leader on Sunday released to the public maps and GPS coordinates that he claimed to prove he is innocent of the charges against him.
The charges faced by the six individuals are the result of an Oct 25 visit to the border by Mr Rainsy who has taken responsibility for uprooting six demarcation posts that were placed in the rice field of 39-year-old Meas Srey.
Mr Rainsy has criticized both Vietnamese and Cambodian officials for their handling of the border’s demarcation which followed villager complaints of encroachment by Vietnam. Additionally, he is facing a charge of inciting racial discrimination.
According to a statement that was issued by Mr Rainsy, a US Army map as well as a French map from 1952 deposited at the UN by the Cambodian government under then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk, shows the four newly placed border points, numbers 184, 185, 186 and 187, placed between 300 meters and 500 meters from the Vietnam border in Chantrea district’s Samraong commune.
SRP spokesman and lawmaker Yim Sovann said that documents prepared by Mr Rainsy are intended to show the Cambodian public and international community evidence of encroachment by Vietnam.
He said only one or two SRP lawmakers will attend the trial on Wednesday.
“We want to see what kind of theater they will perform,” he said.
Defense attorneys representing Mr Rainsy and the five other villagers in Svay Rieng province, said that they are anticipating Wednesday’s trial to last one or two days.
Sam Sokong, a lawyer with the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project, said yesterday that he met with his two clients Mr Srey, and Prum Chea, 41, at the provincial prison last week. He claimed that there are 10 witnesses expected to be summoned to the court and added that his clients are maintaining their innocence.
“They told me that they did not pull out the posts,” he said. “There are many people who went there, and they did not know who pulled it up.”
Arrested Dec 23, Ms Srey and Mr Chea remain in pretrial detention. Both are accused of damaging border demarcation posts in Samraong commune along with the SRP leader and three other villagers.
Mr Rainsy has stated in the past that he would not return to Cambodia until the government releases all prisoners currently being held for protesting land evictions, in addition to returning the property lost.
According to the law, damaging property can carry a prison sentence of one to three years. If the damage is minimal or the property is of little value, the sentence is only two months to a year.
For incitement to discrimination, the law states an offender can face a month to a year in prison, a fine of one million to ten million riel, or both.