Nephew of Slain Activist Denies Wrongdoing

A man who was convicted in a highly criticized trial last year of kil­ling his uncle, an opposition party activist, was released by Kom­pong Speu Provincial Court on Wednesday after completing a par­tially retroactive two-year pri­son term.

Him Vuthea, 21, the nephew of slain Sam Rainsy Party Deputy commune Chief Tit Keo Mony­roath, was released from prison Wednesday and appeared at the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters in Phnom Penh, looking thin and pallid, later the same day.

In April 2003, Him Vuthea was found guilty in court of accidentally shooting his uncle with an

AK-47 rifle in Kompong Speu’s Sambo commune, Samraong Tong district, on the night of Nov 16, 2002.

Him Vuthea initially admitted to the shooting, then recanted in court, saying at least two gunmen ambushed the victim.

At the time, Him Vuthea’s law­yer, Hong Kim Suon, accused Judge Phong Samon of trying to persuade his client to confess to the shooting ahead of the trial, by promising a lighter sentence.

The judge denied trying to in­fluence the case.

On Thursday, Hong Kim Suon said his client dropped an appeal to the Appeals Court, which was scheduled to rule on the case on Nov 17, because he was worried it would prolong his time in prison.

“That meant he accepted the Kompong Speu court’s decision,” Hong Kim Suon said. “But he told me that he had no confidence in the Appeals Court and that they would make him stay in prison until they made a decision.”

The lawyer said his client still insists he did not kill his uncle and that fellow villagers can back the claim.

“Many witnesses said that they saw other people exchange fire with Tit Keo Monyroath,” the law­yer said.

Opposition party Secretary-Ge­ne­ral Eng Chhay Eang charged Wednesday that authorities  framed Him Vuthea, allowing the real killers to go free.

“It was very unjust for him,” Eng Chhay Eang said.

 

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