Suspected Leaders of Riots Receive Pardon

King Norodom Sihanouk on Thursday ordered the release of two men found guilty of helping instigate the Jan 29 anti-Thai riots.

The King signed a Royal de­cree calling for the release of Faculty of Law student Ken Sara, 24, and Norton University student Thorn Veasna, 19, both of whom were arrested Feb 7.

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge found Ken Sara guilty last week of instigating racism, instigating violence and participating in an illegal demonstration, and was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Thorn Veasna was also found guilty of instigating racism and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Um Sam An, former president of the Students’ Movement for Democracy, on Friday said he had spoken to Ken Sara, who was still being detained in Prey Sar prison, after the King’s pardon was issued.

“He’s very happy,” Um Sam An said. “We would like to thank the King for his pardon.”

He added: “They are not in­volved in the anti-Thai riots.”

But, he said, the two men would not be released until Mon­day be­cause they were awaiting signatures from the municipal court, the Ministry of Interior and Prey Sar prison authorities.

Um Sam An added that Kem Sara would make a complaint over his excessive pre-trial detention. He had been jailed for about 7 months before he was sentenced on Sept 15.

Under the law, suspects must be tried within six months of being detained.

Municipal court Judge Tan Senarong convicted 56 people of participating in the riots last week. All but Ken Sara and Thorn Veas­na were sentenced to time served and released.

Thorn Veasna was scheduled to be released in October, while Ken Sara was due to be released in November.

In March, King Sihanouk had issued a statement saying he would pardon any youths convicted of being involved in the riots. The King said he believed the accused were not responsible for the violence.



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