Supreme Court Sentencing Appeal Delayed For Opposition Lawmaker

Imprisoned CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An, citing the absence of his lawyer, persuaded the Supreme Court on Friday to suspend a hearing on his appeal of a more than two-year prison sentence over Facebook posts critical of the government’s demarcation of the frontier with Vietnam.

Mr. Sam An said the summons for the hearing arrived too late for him to arrange for his lawyer to attend the appeal of his October sentence at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

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Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An enters the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh in 2016, where his request for bail was once again rejected on the grounds that his release could disrupt an ongoing investigation and cause social turmoil. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“I want to suggest I should have a lawyer,” he said at the 8 a.m. hearing. “The trial cannot proceed without a lawyer.”

Presiding Judge Khim Bunna agreed, saying, “We decided to delay the trial until the defendant has a lawyer present.”

Mr. Sam An’s lawyer, Choung Chungy, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Sam An was accused of repeatedly taking to Facebook to accuse the government of using the wrong demarcation maps and  ignoring warnings that the comments could land him in prison. He was charged with inciting social disorder and inciting discrimination and found guilt despite never having his parliamentary immunity from prosecution stripped. The CNRP argued this made the charges unconstitutional.

No new hearing date was immediately scheduled.

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