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New charge, same verdict for activist

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a conviction against a staffer from the rights group Licadho for allegedly distributing leaflets insulting government leaders and the king, but changed the charge against him from disinformation to incitement.

Leang Sokchouen was convicted in August 2010 for allegedly distributing political leaflets, a charge he has denied, by the Takeo provincial court and sentenced to two years in prison in a trial Licadho has decried for judicial misconduct. In July 2011, the appeal court upheld the sentence against him.

On Friday, presiding Judge Khim Pon found that the trial had been valid and that Leang Sokchoeun should serve the remainder of his sentence, which he will have completed on Wednesday.

Speaking after the trial, Leang Sokchoeun said he was innocent.

“I did not commit the distribution of the leaflets against the Cambodian government as accused. I was a pure and innocent person,” he said.

In a statement on Friday, Licadho alleged a raft of judicial improprieties in the case, including accusations that the original arrest warrant did not even have Leang Sokchoeun’s name on it, that no witnesses were called at the first trial and that the charge has been switched.

“This switch, announced for the first time during the appeal court’s verdict, blatantly contradicts well-established principles of criminal law,” the statement reads.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com

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