Robbery Suspect Waited 3 Years for Hearing

The president of Svay Rieng Prov­incial Court blamed the Ap­peals Court for making a robbery suspect wait more than three years behind bars for a hearing.

The suspect, Meas Saray, whose age could not be confirmed Thurs­­day, was cleared of a robbery charge by the Svay Rieng provincial court in April 2001, the court’s President Pen Sarith said Thurs­day.

However, he said, the not guilty verdict was appealed by provincial Prosecutor Chum Samban, forcing Meas Saray to remain in the provincial prison until the Appeals Court hears his case.

More than three years later, he said, no hearing has yet been scheduled for Meas Saray.

“It is the fault of the Appeals Court,” Pen Sarith said. “Svay Rieng provincial court has never held a case more than six months without trial,” he said.

Pen Sarith did not elaborate on the circumstances of Meas Saray’s arrest, nor the accusations against him, but said the court “decided to let him go because [there was] not enough evidence.”

Under Cambodian law, when a case is appealed, the judgment of a lower court is suspended until the Appeals Court makes its decision.

Ngin Sophal, Svay Rieng’s Svay Chrum district police chief, said Friday that Meas Saray was around 21 when he was sentenced in 2001 for the robbery of a motorcycle. “One of the robbers was killed at the scene by a crowd of villagers after the robbery. Two suspects escaped and Meas Saray was one,” said Ngin Sophal, adding that police did not find enough evidence at the time to secure his imprisonment.

Reached by phone on Thurs­day, Prosecutor Chum Samban declined to discuss Meas Saray’s case.

“The case is already finished here,” he said before hanging up.

Appeals Court President Ly Vuochleng said Thursday that she was too busy to comment.

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