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Date set for journo murder verdict

Date set for journo murder verdict

A verdict in the long drawn out trial of the grisly murder of a journalist in Ratanakkiri province who had been investigating illegal logging will be handed down at the end of this month, the provincial court announced Friday.

During a re-hearing into the murder of Hang Serei Oudom, which was convened after the court requested further investigation during the initial proceedings in March, presiding judge Y Sovann reportedly set an August 28 verdict date.

Chhay Thy, Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said yesterday the rehearing had been marred by “loopholes” that were hampering proceedings – the latest being an issue over phone records.

“The incident happened in September, and six months later an investigative committee was created related to phone conversations,” he said.

“So, the company [Metfone] confirmed in a letter to the court that it cannot save the conversations beyond one month. So we see that this is a case where the court is incapable or there are many loopholes in the investigation to seek justice for the victims.”

Ratanakkiri military police officer An Bunheng and his wife, Sim Vy, were charged with premeditated murder in September last year, shortly after the former Virakchun Khmer newspaper reporter was found dead in the boot of his car.

Since then about 20 witnesses have been called to the stand, and yesterday prosecutor Chea Sokpheak questioned two more from the families of the accused and the victim, Thy said.

Serei Oudom’s widow, Im Chanthy, said yesterday that she had been waiting almost a year for justice.

“I will wait at first to see to what extent there is justice, and I cannot say anything more than this because I do not know the law,” she said. “But the court has to consider $100,000 for my compensation so that I can feed my children because I need that after I lost my husband.”

Presiding judge Y Sovann could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Tep Monicheat, the defence lawyer of the two accused, said he was too busy to comment.

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