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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chea Vichea appeal verdict postponed again

Chea Vichea appeal verdict postponed again

The appeal of two men convicted – most believe wrongfully – for the 2004 murder of unionist Chea Vichea has been postponed yet again.

Scheduled to be handed down today, a long-awaited verdict to clear the names of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun was postponed with the court claiming it was too busy, a clerk and lawyers said yesterday.

Tim Sangvarith, clerk for the Appeal Court, said the verdict announcement had been delayed due to scheduling conflicts.

“Based on the judges’ busy [schedules], the verdicts for Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, which was scheduled to be handed down today, is delayed without limit,” said Sangvarith, adding that he did not know when it would be rescheduled.

“We will inform both parties about the new schedule when we receive the information from the presiding judge.”

Chuon Sunleng, Vice-President of the Court of Appeal, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But while court officials declined to comment on whether the postponement was politically-motivated, Kao Ty, a lawyer for Chea Vichea’s wife, Chea Kimny, said there was no doubt in his mind that the newest delay was due to the sensitivity of a case that has dragged on for eight years now.

“I think that the reason why the Court of Appeal court has postponed it is because the [late] King Father wrote that both Born Samang and Sok Sam Oeun were innocent. They were not the killers of Chea Vichea,” he said.

The duo were arrested in January 2004 shortly after the outspoken activist was gunned down in broad daylight and sentenced to 20 years in prison – charges widely decried as spurious.

The men were given a provisional release in late 2008 by the Supreme Court, which ordered a reinvestigation that has since all but stalled.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com

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