Rights Workers Say B Meanchey Court Holds Prisoners Too Long

Human rights workers based in Banteay Meanchey province have accused the provincial court of taking too long to try nearly 100 suspects in pre-trial detention.

Adhoc provincial coordinator Sum Chan Kea said Thursday that many of the 94 suspects in pre-trial detention in Banteay Meanchey have been there since 2005. According to the law, suspects must be tried within six months of their detention.

“This is not appropriate that the court has done this so slowly…. All this affects the rights of the suspects,” he said.

Adhoc and provincial court officials said two suspects—Sok Phalla and Vuth Savun—who were arrested on June 22, 2005 on robbery charges were just tried in Banteay Meanchey provincial court on Wednesday.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court Prosecutor So Vat said the two suspects were arrested for stealing a motorbike and breaking into a villager’s house in Mongkul Borei district’s O’Prasat commune. Both were sentenced to five years in jail, he said.

So Vat also said that Adhoc needs to update its figures and that, in reality, almost 70 of the 94 suspects mentioned in Adhoc’s most recent report as being in unlawful pre-trial detention have been tried.

“There could be some slowness because of procedural problems. We have tried many of them and are still trying more,” he said.

Nuon Vanna, director of the provincial prison, said he has been busy procuring the proper documents to hasten the trial of many suspects.

“Yes, there are still a number of prisoners waiting to be tried, but many have been tried already,” he said.

Phnom Penh Adhoc spokes­man Chan Soveth said a recent staffing changeover of a prosecutor and a judge in Banteay Mean­chey province has slowed down the workings of the court.

Suspects are being held too long in pre-trial detention in many parts of the country, he added.

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