A Royal Decree fulfilling the appointment requests of the Supreme Council of Magistracy has been issued, effectively punishing a Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge whose demotion has been condemned as political by rights groups and opposition lawmakers.
The decree will send the judge in question, Hing Thirith, to the remote Stung Treng Provincial Court.
Oun Bunna, another Municipal Court judge who has charged that his transferal is politically motivated, is bound for the Kampot Provincial Court.
Appointed to replace them are Kim Ravy of the Kampot Court and Nhean Sovann of the Prey Veng Provincial Court.
The Royal Decree also promoted Meas Sopheak from deputy prosecutor of the Sihanoukville Court to acting chief prosecutor. Mam Mith, Sihanoukville’s former chief prosecutor, died last month of long-term liver and gall bladder troubles.
On June 30, King Norodom Sihanouk wrote to Minister of Justice Neav Sithong and the Supreme Council, asking them to “examine the proposal” of 17 Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers who urged the King to pardon Hing Thirith.
The opposition lawmakers tied Hing Thirith’s dismissal to his decision to drop a controversial case against two men accused of killing union leader Chea Vichea.
Hing Thirith has publicly said that in dropping that case, he ignored orders from a powerful government official.
Chea Sim, president of the CPP and the Senate, signed the Royal Decree on July 6 as the acting head of state, a position he assumes whenever King Sihanouk is overseas.
Both Hing Thirith and Oun Bunna said Sunday that the Municipal Court director had notified them of the Royal Decree Friday, but did not know when they will relocate.
Chea Sorn, chief of Chea Sim’s Cabinet, said the two judges will be punished by their new provincial court directors if they do not abide by the decree, which became effective upon its signing.