SRP Lawmakers Travel to Svay Rieng to Visit Jailed Border Dispute Detainees

Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers and supporters are scheduled to travel to Svay Rieng province today to visit two jailed villagers despite having no official permission allowing them to see the detainees.

A group of roughly 30 SRP officials will make the trip this morning from Phnom Penh to Svay Rieng city, party spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday, to meet with the prisoners Meas Srey, 39, and Prum Chea, 41.

“Even if I get [permission] or not we are still traveling to the court in Svay Rieng,” he said.

The Interior Ministry already redirected a written request last week by the SRP seeking to see the pair. The ministry’s stated the lawmakers should contact the court if they wish to visit the prison. Svay Rieng provincial prison director Ken Savoeun said he would not receive the lawmakers unless the court first cleared the visit.

“If the court allows them to see [the detainees] I will allow them to enter,” he said, stating he had not yet received any authorization from the court.

Court director Korm Chhan could not be reached for comment.

Arrested on Dec 23, Ms Srey and Mr Chea remain in pre-trial detention ahead of their Jan 27 trial. Both are accused of damaging border demarcation posts in Chantrea district Samraong commune along with SRP President Sam Rainsy and three other villagers on Oct 25.

Mr Rainsy, who claimed responsibility for uprooting six, temporary border demarcation posts placed in Ms Srey’s rice field, also faces a charge of inciting racial discrimination after he criticized Vietnamese officials over their handling of the borders demarcation. Mr Rainsy, however, is in Paris and does not intend to return for his court appearance.

Court prosecutor Keo Sothea said yesterday that only lawyers and family members are allowed to visit prisoners, however, attorney Sam Sokong, who is representing the jailed pair, said both family and friends are permitted to meet with detainees.

Svay Rieng city deputy police chief Prak Cut said police would keep a close eye on the SRP delegation and take action to stave off any troubles.

“Police will stop them if they create disorder,” he said.

When asked if he expected any problems during their journey, Mr Sovann simply stated, “We are Cambodians. If we want to have a confrontation I would confront those who invade Cambodia and not my Cambodian colleagues.”


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