Former Adhoc staffer and election official Ny Chakrya’s defamation conviction and six-month jail sentence were upheld by the Court of Appeal yesterday, in a short hearing that offered no legal reasoning for the verdict.
Chakrya, who is deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee, was convicted of defamation in September after he accused Siem Reap court officials of colluding to jail villagers involved in a land dispute.
The two officials – deputy pro-secutor Sok Keo Bandit and in-vestigating judge Ki Rithy – then filed complaints accusing him of defamation and attempting to pressure the judiciary.
While court spokesman Touch Tharith yesterday told reporters there was adequate evidence to uphold a conviction, Chakrya’s lawyer was quick to take issue with a process in which the two complainants and their lawyer, En Yoeun, hadn’t even bothered to appear.
“I think that the court does not have adequate [evidence] and is unclear, so it cannot be used to burden [my client],” he said. Following the verdict, Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said “the rubber stamp ruling” was only indicative that the courts had stopped trying to pretend they were independent from the government.
Chakrya is currently in pre-trial detention for a bribery case related to opposition leader Kem Sokha’s alleged sex scandal. A deal struck by the two major political parties last week could see Chakrya and four Adhoc staffers released soon, with Sokha and a CNRP commune chief already pardoned.