Opposition Senator’s Request for Bail Rejected by Appeal Court

Opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour’s appeal against a decision to deny him bail on forgery and incitement charges was rejected Wednesday, with the judge saying that the 59-year-old presents a threat to social order, according to the senator’s lawyer.

Mr. Sok Hour, who was elected a senator for the Sam Rainsy Party in 2012, was apprehended by heavily-armed police on August 15, days after Mr. Hun Sen ordered his arrest over a Facebook post in which he presented a doctored border treaty.

The Appeal Court decided that Mr. Sok Hour should not be granted bail “in order to prevent the crimes reoccurring, and to retain the charged for the court to do its procedures, and to prevent chaos occurring from this action,” said the senator’s lawyer, Choung Choungy.

Yet he said his client, who was not at the hearing, was a well-mannered man who could be trusted to present himself in court when called.

“He does not have enough influence to make chaos in society, and he would not run away,” Mr. Choungy said.

As a senator, Mr. Sok Hour holds immunity from prosecution, but authorities last month apprehended him by using a loophole in the legal privilege that allows police to intervene if they catch a lawmaker committing a crime red-handed.

Mr. Choungy said that provision clearly did not apply because the video that Mr. Sok Hour was charged over was posted to Facebook a day before Mr. Hun Sen ordered the senator’s arrest, and another day elapsed before he was caught.

“The Appeal Court decision is not right for my client because he is a senator,” Mr. Choungy said. “It was not a ‘red-handed’ crime because he posted it on [August] 12th but the authorities only started doing their work on the 13th.”

Judge Leang Meang declined to comment on his decision. “I cannot comment on this, because it was a closed-door hearing,” the judge said.

Mr. Choungy said that he would discuss with Mr. Sok Hour whether to file a final appeal to the Supreme Court.

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