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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - 'Forgotten 45' rot for 10 years

'Forgotten 45' rot for 10 years

T he cases of 45 inmates, detained at T3 prison without ever going to trial, are

still hanging in the balance after more than 10 years, a report in Khmer

newspaper Reasmei Kampuchea states.

The prisoners, many of whom have been

locked away since the late 1970s when the Hun Sen government took power, cannot

be released until official papers recording their arrests have been

found.

However, a T3 prison official fears the inmates will be left to

rot in jail as no reports on their arrests were ever made official.

"I

believe most of the inmates were charged with some sort of criminal offence and

were then sent to T3 by the provincial and city police during the era of the

State of Cambodia," said the official, who added he did not know whether inmates

had committed petty or serious crimes.

The official told the paper he

believed it was wrong to jail a person without finding out whether they had

committed a crime. The law states that police have the right to detain suspected

offenders for 48 hours, but must have proper evidence and accusing

documents.

"I am just waiting for an order from my superiors to release

these people. The only other way they will be set free is by holding a full

court trial.

"We have spoken to many court officials, who have told us

the court cannot hold trials unless a full investigation is held or proper

documents are produced. The court is the implementer of the law and cannot

interfere in the issue."

The prison official said the government and NGOs

are powerless to act.

Khieu Sameth, direct secretary of the Minister of

Justice , said the prisoners could ask the King for a pardon or a sentence

reduction.

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