Protesters gathered at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday in support of prominent activist Tep Vanny, who won a hollow victory in her quest to get out of jail while a number of cases against her proceed through the courts.
While Ms. Vanny was being questioned, protesters from six communities, including former residents of the eviction-hit communities of Borei Keila and Boeng Kak, urged the court to release her.
For several hours, they held banners with Ms. Vanny’s photograph and repeatedly chanted: “[She] who finds justice is imprisoned. But the thief is free.”
At the end of the hearing, an investigating judge ruled that Ms. Vanny should be released under court supervision in the case, in which she and five other activists had been accused of threatening a neighbor with leaflets.
Though she is no longer detained in this case, “she has two other cases in which she is under pretrial detention,” municipal court spokesman Suos Vithearandy said, declining further comment.
In a message released after her questioning, Ms. Vanny referred to the case against jailed election official Ny Chakrya—for whom the opposition party has been seeking a political deal to secure his release—and said she hoped Prime Minister Hun Sen “will give me freedom and justice just as quickly.”
Ly Mom, who had filed the complaint over the leaflets left at her house, which she said insulted her and threatened violence, said she wanted to put the dispute behind her and maintain good relations with her neighbors.
According to the court, another activist held over the leafletting at Ms. Mom’s house, Kong Chantha, has been summoned to appear on December 22.
She said: “I am clear and certain that at the time I was not at her house…. I hope the court will find out the truth.”
Ms. Vanny remains in prison over a 2011 protest in which activists demanded that 94 displaced Boeng Kak families be given plots of land, and a 2013 case in which she was charged with intentional violence.