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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chea Vichea suspects enjoy stress-free life out of prison: family

Chea Vichea suspects enjoy stress-free life out of prison: family

Despite concerns about the security of the newly-released pair, one suspect, Sok Sam Oeun, says his innocence will keep him safe

 BORN AGAIN?

After four days out of prison, Born Samnang went to the New Life Church in Phnom Penh to become a Christian, like his father. “I brought my son to the church on Sunday to let him become a Christian and be born again like me,” Bo Boeun, 59, said.

FOUR days after a Supreme Court decision sent the controversial case of union leader Chea Vichea's assassination back to the Appeal Court for reinvestigation, the two suspects - temporarily released - say they are not fearful for their safety.

"I am not afraid because I am innocent and not a bad person," Takeo native Sok Sam Oeun said, adding that he now hoped the charges against him and fellow suspect Born Samnang would be dropped.

The pair have languished in Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison since they were arrested a week after the 2004 slaying of Free Trade Union leader Chea Vichea. Local and international rights groups have persistently called for the release of the two suspects, saying that there is no evidence connecting them to the killing.  

Family members say they remain concerned about their newly liberated relatives as they settle into a life outside prison.

I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I AM INNOCENT AND NOT A BAD

PERSON.

"I contacted Licadho to keep an eye on my son because I am concerned and the accusations against him are not lifted yet," said Ngoun Kimsry, the mother of Born Samnang.   
Any concerns?

Local legal NGO the Cambodian Defenders Project, which has provided lawyers for the two men, said they had not heard of threats against them.

"There is no specific law about protection procedures for persons on [temporary release], but  it is the state's obligation to protect all its citizens," said the NGO's director, Sok Sam Oeun - who is not related to the suspect - adding that if any threats against the suspects are reported, the state must find a way to protect them.

"If Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang feel any threat, they should contact local police or a rights organisation," he added.

But Thun Saray, director of local rights group Adhoc, said that public pressure to find the "real suspects" in the murder case of union leader Chea Vichea could lead to a fresh wave of legal punishment for the pair.

"The government might feel embarrassed when the pressure to take action in the case grows, and that might lead to the Appeal Court punishing the two suspects [currently] out of prison again as a response to the public demands," he said. 

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