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Chea Vichea appeal set

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Sok Sam Oeun (L) and Born Samnang wait at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh during a break in proceedings in 2009. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Sok Sam Oeun (L) and Born Samnang wait at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh during a break in proceedings in 2009. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The Court of Appeal has set a date for a long-delayed hearing of two men popularly believed to have been wrongfully convicted of the 2004 murder of unionist Chea Vichea.

“The hearing will be set in November,” Appeal Court deputy president Chuon Sunleng said yesterday. “I don’t remember [the specific date], but it is maybe in the middle of the month.”

Free Trade Union President Chea Vichea was gunned down in broad daylight in January 2004.

The men quickly arrested for his murder – Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun – are widely believed to have been framed, but the case went from court to court before both were “provisionally” released in late 2008.

By the time of their release, they had spent nearly five years in prison.  

The Supreme Court ordered a reinvestigation at the lower level, but that has stalled. Most recently the court scheduled a hearing date in August 2011, only to announce on trial day  that it had been delayed again.

While no real investigation has ever been launched, many believe there were political motives behind the murder of the outspoken activist.

Former disgraced municipal police chief Heng Pov claimed as much in a 2006 interview with French magazine L’Express, saying the men had been framed as part of a government conspiracy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at sokchea.meas@phnompenhpost.com

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