Four senior officials for rights group Adhoc will remain behind bars after the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling that they should be held in detention while awaiting trial, but gave no reason for the decision.
Adhoc’s head of monitoring Ny Sokha, his deputies Nay Vanda and Yi Soksan, and senior investigator Lim Mony have been held in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison for more than 10 months after being charged in May for allegedly bribing a mistress of CNRP President Kem Sokha to deny an affair. They were denied bail for the fourth time by the Appeal Court last month.
“The Supreme Court decided to uphold the Appeal Court’s verdict,” Presiding Judge Heng Priya told the courtroom on Monday. He did not give any explanation.
Ny Chakrya, deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee and a former Adhoc employee, was charged as an accomplice in May along with the four others. He has a separate hearing on March 24.
The five had their detention extended by six months in October.
Deputy prosecutor Chan Darareaksmey said last week that the four needed to be detained because investigators were still questioning witnesses. He could not be reached on Monday.
However, Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Monday’said the ruling contradicted local and international law.
“The detention of the five for nearly one year now, without any evidence that justifies their continued imprisonment…flies in the face of their internationally and constitutionally guaranteed right to be presumed innocent, as well as their right to be tried within a reasonable time,” she said.
The group’s lawyer, Lor Chunthy, intends to write to the municipal court asking for the reason for the decision.
The court has not indicated when investigations for the trial would finish or whether it plans to extend the prisoners’ detention again next month, when the current six-month extension ends, Mr. Chunthy said. The court is allowed to extend detention by two six-month terms, he added.
“If the authorities are in possession of evidence…the five should be brought to trial without further delay,” Ms. Sopheap said. “If not, then the charges against them should be immediately dropped and the five allowed to return home.”
(Additional reporting by Hannah Hawkins)