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Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An is escorted through the grounds of the Supreme Court earlier this month in Phnom Penh.
Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An is escorted through the grounds of the Supreme Court earlier this month in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Bail again rejected for lawmaker Um Sam An

The Supreme Court yesterday shot down a bail request from jailed opposition lawmaker Um Sam An, saying he presented a flight risk should he be released.

Sam An’s lawyers had argued that his detention was unlawful given that his constitutionally mandated parliamentary immunity had never been formally stripped, though the court was unswayed, ruling that in addition to possibly fleeing, Sam An could destroy evidence or cause unspecified social unrest if freed.

Sam An was arrested in April over comments he made on Facebook regarding what he characterised as the government’s failed border policy with Vietnam, which the government interpreted as “incitement”.

Rather than stripping his immunity, a ruling party vote in the assembly determined he had been caught “red-handed”, and prosecution could therefore proceed.

Hem Socheat, one of Sam An’s three attorneys, said the verdict was a disappointment.

“What the Supreme Court said, that it does not have the ability to consider a lawmaker’s rights, I think that it is not right,” he said, adding that he would now ask the Constitutional Council to examine the case.

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