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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Activist’s case sent to lower court for retrial

Areng activist Ven Vorn (right) is led into Koh Kong Provincial Court in February last year after he was charged with forestry crimes.
Areng activist Ven Vorn (right) is led into Koh Kong Provincial Court in February last year after he was charged with forestry crimes. LICADHO

Activist’s case sent to lower court for retrial

The Supreme Court yesterday sent back the case of Mother Nature activist Ven Vorn, who is contesting a one-year suspended sentence handed to him by a Koh Kong court, to the Appeal Court for a retrial citing irregularities.

Vorn was accused by Koh Kong’s Forestry Administration of allegedly harvesting forest products without permission and tampering with evidence. In March 2016, Vorn, who was also a ruling party commune councillor, was convicted and handed to a one-year suspended sentence.

The ruling was upheld by the Appeal Court in September.

“In the Ven Vorn case that the Appeal Court had tried in the past there were some wrong points. Therefore the Supreme Court decided to return the case to the Appeal Court for a retrial,” said Supreme Court Presiding Judge Kim Sathavy, declining to elaborate on the irregularities.

Vorn was not present in court and could not be reached for comment. Fellow Mother Nature activist Thun Ratha said it was difficult to gauge the higher court’s decision.

He said it could either be a ploy to lengthen legal hassles for Vorn by sending it back to the Appeal Court or could be a positive step in which the court would have to rectify mistakes he alleged it had made last year.

“We hope the Appeal Court will provide justice for him because he has not done anything wrong as charged by the Koh Kong court,” he said.

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