Villagers Convicted in Border Case To Be Moved To Capital

The Court of Appeal plans to transfer two villagers who were convicted along with opposition leader Sam Rainsy for uprooting border posts in Svay Rieng province to Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh ahead of their Aug 9 hearing, officials and the prisoners’ families said yesterday.

Prum Chea, 41, and Meas Srey, 39, are currently being held in Svay Rieng Provincial Prison but will be moved to the capital before their appeal is heard next month, according to Appeal Court Prosecutor Ngeth Sarath.

“I sent the order…to bring the two convicted persons to attend their appeal hearing on Aug 9 on time,” Mr Sarath said, adding he did not know when or how they were to be moved.

Mr Chea and Ms Srey were convicted on Jan 27 of destruction of property for uprooting temporary border posts. They were handed one-year prison terms and combined fines and damages of $1,250, to be split with Mr Rainsy, who was convicted on charges of damaging public property and racial incitement.

An Appeal Court hearing for all three that was scheduled for July 6 was postponed after the appellants’ lawyers walked out of the courtroom when they found out that the villagers had not been transported from Svay Rieng to speak as witnesses.

Ngeth Chandara, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the move would make it difficult for the villagers’ families to visit them. “If they are transferred to jail in Prey Sar they will be far from their families,” he said.

Meas Pril, Ms Srey’s 41-year-old brother, said the cost of traveling to the capital would prevent him from being able to visit his sister.

“My family is poor, and we could not come to visit her if she is transferred,” he said.

Chhoeung Sarim, Mr Chea’s wife, said she was worried about the effect the move would have on her husband’s well-being. Mr Chea has complained of ill health on a number of occasions since being imprisoned and was hospitalized in February.

“I am very concerned for his health,” she said.

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