Prison Refuses to Release Woman Despite Order From Court

Despite an order from the Supreme Court, officials at Prey Sar prison Thursday refused to release a woman on bail who has been jailed since November as part of a bitter land dispute with tycoon Khun Sear, her lawyer said.

Ly Seav Minh, 23, has been held in the prison’s Correctional Center 2 since November, when she and her father were arrested for using violence against a property owner during a 2013 confrontation with Mr. Sear’s security guards.

Ly Sreang Kheng speaks with reporters outside of Prey Sar prison's Correctional Center 2 in Phnom Penh on Thursday after prison officials refused to release his daughter. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Ly Sreang Kheng speaks with reporters outside of Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Center 2 in Phnom Penh on Thursday after prison officials refused to release his daughter. (Ottavia Fabbri/The Cambodia Daily)

Her father, Ly Sreang Kheng, 58, was released on bail in December.

About 50 people—including Ms. Seav Minh’s family members and friends, as well as rights group workers—gathered outside the prison until the late afternoon as her lawyer attempted to negotiate with prison officials.

But at about 5 p.m., Chuong Choungy, the lawyer, stepped out of the prison alone.

“The prosecutor-general at the Supreme Court ordered the release of Seav Minh, but the prison officials claim we do not have enough documents,” he told reporters.

“They claim they need more documents from the municipal and appeal courts,” he added.

Ms. Seav Minh and her family have for years been fighting Mr. Sear and his eponymous company over a plot of land in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district.

The dispute escalated in October 2013 when a bag filled with three venomous cobras was hurled into their home. The family blames employees of Mr. Sear’s company.

According to the Supreme Court’s decision, a copy of which was provided by Mr. Choungy, the court decreed on Wednesday that Ms. Seav Minh should be released on bail.

“The Supreme Court orders competent authorities to release the accused, Ly Seav Minh, 23, on bail immediately if this person is not imprisoned on another charge,” says the decision signed by Supreme Court prosecutor-general Chea Leang.

Mr. Choungy said he contacted the Supreme Court for clarification and was assured that the letter was sufficient to secure his client’s release.

“I told them the prison officials demanded the Appeal Court’s verdict and they wondered about this and said the only one who has the right to ask for the verdict is the Supreme Court,” he said.

He added that he would file an official complaint with the court today.

Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said he was too busy to comment. Khlot Dara, the director of Correctional Center 2, could not be reached.

Waiting outside the prison Thursday afternoon, Mr. Sreang Kheng said he could not understand why his daughter remained behind bars.

“Why is our family being mistreated?” he said.

“The company’s security attacked us, destroyed our home and threw cobras into our house. No one cares about that.”

sokhean@cambodiadaily.com

© 2015, All rights reserved.