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Prominent land rights activist Tep Vanny being escorted by officials to Phnom Penh's Supreme Court last month. Pha Lina

Judge cites health in delaying Vanny trial

Land rights activist Tep Vanny’s trial was postponed indefinitely on Friday, with judge Long Kesor Pirum citing health reasons for abruptly adjourning the hearing after almost an hour of questioning.

Vanny faces charges of intentional violence under aggravating circumstances related to 2013 protests outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence.

Kesor Pirum yesterday said the trial would resume soon, “but not this week, just soon”.

Contacted yesterday, Vanny’s lawyer, Sam Sokunthea, said her client had played no role in any violence. “I still hope my client will receive a fair decision.”

Naly Pilorge, of rights group Licadho, said the rights of defendants should take priority. “If the judge is ill, Vanny should be released on bail,” she said. “The legal prosecution of Vanny is yet another example of the judiciary targeting activists for conducting peaceful activities.”

Almost 100 people from the community protested in front of their court on Friday, most of them wearing black and raising banners. Vanny’s 13-year-old daughter, who was among the protesters and recently dealt with health issues, fainted.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LEONIE KIJEWSKI

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