Two villagers detained for more than two weeks in the Svay Rieng provincial prison over their involvement in the Sam Rainsy border incident are still without legal representation as non-governmental organizations sort out who will serve as their attorney, officials and family members said yesterday.
On Dec 23, the provincial court arrested Meas Srey, 39, and Prum Chea, 41, on charges of intentionally damaging property during an Oct 25 visit to Chantrea district by SRP President Sam Rainsy, who claimed responsibility for uprooting six border demarcation posts placed in Ms Srey’s rice field. Mr Rainsy will stand trial on Jan 27.
Ms Srey and Mr Chea were offered legal representation by Sam Sokong, a lawyer with the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project on Dec 25. However, as of yesterday, Mr Sokong said he was still awaiting documents from the victims that include their thumbprint and signature allowing him to legally represent them at their Jan 27 trial.
Executive director of CDP Sok Sam Oeun said the signed documents were expected to be sent by human rights group Adhoc, but had not yet arrived. Without the letters, he said, the lawyer could not proceed.
“If you have no letter, the court will not recognize you,” Mr Sam Oeun said, adding the organization is planning to take the case.
Lawyers need at least two weeks to get ready for a trial and could ask the court to delay the trial if they had insufficient time to prepare their case, he said.
Adhoc’s provincial coordinator Nget Dara said yesterday that he had sent the documents to the rights group’s main office in Phnom Penh and did not know what was behind the delay.
Mr Chea’s wife, Chhean Sarim, said she is growing concerned over the delay in assigning lawyers.
“He does not have a lawyer and the hearing date is coming up,” she said yesterday.