Hopes that three jailed Cambodia National Rescue Party youth activists would be released on bail yesterday proved overly optimistic, with the Appeal Court judge not yet even receiving the bail request.
Top CNRP leaders have made overtures to the ruling party in hopes of securing the releases of Kheun Chumreuon, San Kim Heng and Neang Sokhun, all of whom were arrested on August 2 in connection to a July protest that turned violent. All three were denied bail by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday.
On Saturday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said a decision could be made early this week, and CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that leaders from both sides had been “working on that”.
But Ket Khy, a CNRP lawyer, said Appeal Court president You Bunleng, who could not be reached, had only said a decision would be made in the next 15 days.
“He said he will send the case to judge Seng Sivutha to open a hearing but not for the public,” Khy said.
Sivutha said yesterday evening that he had “heard” of the appeal, but he had not yet received a bail request.
Rights groups have argued the arrests are politically motivated, and designed to push the CNRP to compromise as details related to election reform are hammered out. A working group meeting on the subject was held yesterday.
However, the government has rejected that accusation.
CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha, and lawmakers Mu Sochua and Keo Phirum – who were arrested on charges in connection to the same protest but later released – were also summonsed to court yesterday for questioning.
The three sent their lawyers on their behalf, Sochua said, adding that her lawyer had told judge Keo Mony he was “dealing with members of parliament, and the procedure [he was] using is not correct”.
“So he said OK, I’m not going to call her [for questioning] again,” she added.
Mony declined to comment.
Meanwhile, senators from the CPP and the CNRP agreed yesterday to share power in the senate for the first time.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA, MEAS SOKCHEA AND VONG SOKHENG