After informing two media outlets in separate interviews that the pre-trial detention of the so-called “Adhoc 5” had been extended, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court clerk yesterday retracted his statement, prompting one of the defence lawyers to speculate that the extension of their clients’ detention was a foregone conclusion.
The speculation came just as it was announced that the five – Adhoc’s Lim Mony, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan and Nay Vanda, and former Adhoc staffer and current National Election Committee official Ny Chakrya – had been nominated for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, along with two other finalists from El Salvador and Egypt.
The five are closing in on the one-year mark of their detention, and a judge is expected today to deliver a decision on whether the five will enter their third consecutive six-month pre-detention period. After that, no further extensions are allowed, and the investigating judge would have to send the case to trial or drop the charges.
But speaking to both The Post and the Cambodia Daily yesterday, Y Rin said that the investigating judge, Theam Chanpiseth, had informed him that detention for the five would be extended again.
“Yes, there is an extension. As you know it is six months at a time and the procedure allows us to extend it three times,” he said, referring to the first detention, followed by two extensions.
When asked for the a copy of the decision, Rin asked to confer with the investigating judge, only to later say that he had misspoken, and instead read out a summons that had been sent for both sets of lawyers to appear today.
Adhoc lawyer Keo Sophal said that if Rin had indeed said there was an extension, then it seemed that her clients’ detention had already been decided.
Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said yesterday that such a situation wouldn’t necessarily be abnormal, as investigating judges usually only called the defence in to inform them of their decision, with the lawyers free to challenge the decision later.
Fellow Adhoc defence counsel Lor Chunthy confirmed that his four clients had been summonsed to court today for a closed meeting with the investigating judge, with Chakrya’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, confirming the same.
Chunthy said that if Rin’s revelation stands, it would be unfortunate and unreasonable.
“I don’t know why the court is afraid that they will collude together if they are given bail,” as it has suggested in the past when denying bail, Chunthy said. “There is no reason they would do that.”
If the detention is extended, the five could still be in Prey Sar prison as the Martin Ennals Foundation, named after a past secretary-general of Amnesty International, announces the winner of its prestigious award on October 10 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The award is judged by a panel consisting of representatives from 10 international human rights organisations.
“It is enormously brave of people to stand up against the Cambodian government like this, which year after year relentlessly has tried to snuff out criticisms or any sort of organising by civil society,” said Brian Dooley of the nonprofit Human Rights First.