Witnesses in Chea Vichea Case Hard To Find: NGO

The Cambodian Defenders Project said Tuesday that it is having difficulty finding witnesses for the two men accused of killing union leader Chea Vichea in 2004 to attend the pair’s Appeals Court hearing Friday.

Some witnesses whose testimony was ignored at the original trial say they are too disillusioned to attend the hearing, said the CDP’s executive director Sok Sam Oeun.

While others who said they were with Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang when Chea Vichea was killed cannot be found, he said.

“Some have disappeared we, cannot find [them]…some said they’ve been to the court many times and it’s useless,” said Sok Sam Oeun, who is no relation to his client of the same name.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced the two men to 20 years in prison each in August 2005.

Among those reluctant to appear is Born Samnang’s former girlfriend, who has previously said she was with him in Prey Veng province when Chea Vichea was gunned down in Phnom Penh on Jan 22, 2004, Sok Sam Oeun said.

Born Samnang’s girlfriend, her mother, brother and other relatives all testified in the original trial that he was celebrating Chinese New Year with them that morning.

Sok Sam Oeun said that he was still hopeful that Born Samnang would go free because of testimony from the former girlfriend’s mother, who is expected to attend Friday.

New written testimony from Va Sothy, who witnessed the killing and has proclaimed the two men’s innocence, should also help, he said.

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