Opposition leader, jailed villagers will ask for charges to be dropped
The Court of Appeal was today to hear the case of opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two jailed villagers convicted at Svay Rieng Provincial Court in January for uprooting temporary border posts, Pun Savatt, chief clerk at the Court of Appeal, said yesterday.
Mr Rainsy was convicted in January on charges of damaging public property and racial incitement after he led a group of Svay Rieng province villagers in uprooting six temporary border demarcation posts during a protest. Villagers Prum Chea and Meas Srey were also convicted of destruction of property and are currently serving one-year sentences in the provincial prison.
Mr Rainsy’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, who was to represent the opposition leader in court today, said he was hopeful that his client’s appeal would be successful.
“I hope the Court of Appeal will bring justice to my client at trial and drop the charges,” he said.
Sam Sokong, the defense lawyer for the two villagers in the case, said he would also appear in court today on behalf of his clients.
“I think for this case, according to the law, the court could release them, because they were not directly involved, but it depends on the judge’s decision,” Mr Sokong said.
Mr Chea’s wife, Chhoeung Sarim, arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday and plans to attend the hearing, although she said the court never notified her about it.
“My husband and I did not receive an invitation from the court to attend my husband’s appeal but I have come here to hear and listen to the hearing,” she said.
“I want the Court of Appeal to release him from jail,” she added.
Ms Srey’s brother, Meas Pril, also traveled from Svay Rieng to Phnom Penh in advance of the hearing. He called the case “a political issue.”
“I am hopeful that the court will release my sister from jail,” he said.