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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Imprisoned opposition publisher suffers diminishing health: lawyer

Imprisoned opposition publisher suffers diminishing health: lawyer

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Hang Chakra, sentenced last week to one year in prison for defamation, says he hasn't been able to sleep or eat since he was incarcerated.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Opposition editor Hang Chakra with SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court earlier this month.

THE lawyer for jailed opposition newspaper publisher Hang Chakra said Tuesday that his client has gone without sleep or food since he was imprisoned last Friday, and that he would write a formal complaint about his health to the court.

"I went to visit my client on Monday at Prey Sar prison. He told me he could not eat or sleep," lawyer Choung Chou Ngy told the Post Tuesday.

"This could make him sick, so I am now preparing two letters to the court to have him released from prison and one more letter to the Appeal Court," he said.

Hang Chakra, who publishes the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, was sentenced to one year in prison for after a judge last week found him guilty of publishing false information pertaining to a high-ranking government official and his staff.

No justice

Choung Chou Ngy claims his client, who was arrested and sentenced the same day,  wasn't given a chance to defend himself, and that his health problems were likely a result of shock.

"The court did not let my client defend himself. Even I, his lawyer, was not given the chance to defend him," Choung Chou Ngy said. "Their aim is to imprison my client rather than seek justice."

Family expresses concern

Hang Chakra's family has also expressed concern over his health.  

"I worry so much about my father's health because he has got multiple illnesses," Hang Chakra's daughter Hang Nethra, 20, said Tuesday.

Hang Nethra said that she wrote a letter through human rights organisations on Monday to get permission to visit her father.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring supervisor for rights group Licadho, said Tuesday his organisation had sent the letter but had not yet received a response.  

"We wrote to the general department of the prison on Monday to allow his daughter and Licadho doctors see him because his health is not so good," Am Sam Ath said.

Heng Hak, general director at the prison, said Tuesday that he had not yet received the letter, adding: "If the court provides permission, they will be permitted to visit [Hang Chakra] in prison." 

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