Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court judges could face trials from the other side of bench

Court judges could face trials from the other side of bench

Court judges could face trials from the other side of bench

Extended pre-trial detentions under scrutiny

Phnom Penh judge Tan Senarong may be the defendant in a trial of his own soon.

A deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has filed a complaint with

the Ministry of Justice alleging that Senarong broke Article 21 of the 1993 law on

judiciary and criminal procedures when he held a Vietnamese national for 17 months

before sentencing.

According to Article 21, a suspect can be held only six months before trial. A public

official who fails to comply with the law can be punished by up to two years in prison.

But Senarong is not the only judge allowing suspects to linger in detention for too

long. The Cambodian National Research Organization (CNRO) claim they have discovered

over 300 such cases in 2003 alone.

In January, CNRO president Heang Rihty filed a complaint with the International Criminal

Court against three Phnom Penh municipal court judges: Thong Ol, Tan Senarong, and

On Bunna, who has since been transferred to Kampot province.

"Judges who commit wrongdoing have to be punished like anyone else," Rithy


Senarong defended his actions vigorously. "I have enough evidence and appropriate

reasons," he said, reeling off a litany of explanations.

The pre-trial delay was due to the fact that a lawyer was not assigned in a timely

manner. He was traveling on a mission to Thailand with other judges and so could

not attend the case as promptly as usual. A complaint should be filed against the

investigating judge who took so long to investigate the case in the first place,

Senarong says.

He was not surprised to hear that Rithy had filed a formal complaint against him,

claiming that Rithy "wants to defame me." Senarong said Rithy had no right

to be involved in court affairs.

Hanrot Raken, general prosecutor at the Appeal Court, said the disciplinary council

of the Ministry of Justice should conduct an investigation to determine if Senarong

was negligent, or intended to detain the criminal suspect too long.

Raken claims the 12 judges, four prosecutors and 60 judge and prosecutor clerks at

the Phnom Penh Municipal Court are inadequate to handle the rising criminal and civil

caseload, which topped 5,000 cases last year.


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all