Opposition party activist Sok Yoeun is likely to be immediately rearrested today after his release from a Thai prison, The Bangkok Post reported Saturday, realizing party boss Sam Rainsy’s fears that the Battambang man who fled attempted murder charges in Cambodia will remain in jail pending the outcome of a government extradition request.
After leaving Bangkok Special Prison, Sok Yoeun will be taken to the city’s Criminal Court, where an application will be made to further detain him, Police Major-General Thepparat Rattanavanich told The Bangkok Post.
Sok Yoeun was named as a suspect in the 1998 Siem Reap rocket attack that some believe to have been an assassination attempt against Prime Minister Hun Sen.
But he escaped to Thailand late last year as Cambodian authorities rounded up others thought to be involved in planning the attack, which killed a teen-age boy but left Hun Sen unharmed.
After Sok Yoeun’s arrest in Thailand last December, Cambodian authorities stepped up their efforts to bring him back to face charges connected with the attack, but were unsuccessful. Instead, he was sentenced to six months in a Thai prison for violating immigration laws.
At the time, Sam Rainsy Party officials called this a victory, saying it proved the Thai government doubted Cambodia’s allegations against Sok Yoeun enough not to immediately return him to face prosecution.
Party officials have said that Sok Yoeun, who has been granted “person of concern” status by the UN, will be allowed to go to a third country.
But his rearrest may indicate there is perhaps more evidence against Sok Yoeun than previously thought. Military Intelligence chief General Mol Roeup confirmed last week that the government would continue to press the Thais for Sok Yoeun’s return. He said he did not know what efforts were being made or what evidence has been presented to justify Sok Yoeun’s return.
The government has so far refused to reveal what evidence exists against Sok Yoeun. Two other suspects arrested in Cambodia, Mong Davuth and Kong Bun Heang, were released in March after prosecutors could not gather enough evidence to implicate them in the attack.
“How can they find evidence against Sok Yoeun when the three were allegedly connected? It is inconsistent,” Sam Rainsy said Sunday. “To make an innocent man languish in prison for political or diplomatic reasons is outrageous.”
Sam Rainsy said he was unaware of Sok Yoeun’s potential rearrest, but thought it may be more a formality than a real threat to his freedom. “It’s a matter of procedure. Sok Yoeun cannot just be sent from prison to a plane that will take him somewhere else,” he said.