Political commentator, Kim Sok’s request for bail was yesterday denied for a second time by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which ruled that he was a flight risk and could cause “social disorder” if released to await trial for allegedly defaming the ruling party.
Sok has been in pretrial detention since February and faces defamation and incitement charges brought by Prime Minister Hun Sen for allegedly suggesting that the Cambodian People’s Party was behind political analyst Kem Ley’s murder.
After a 90-minute hearing, presiding Judge Ky Rithy said there were three reasons for denying the bail application: the potential for Sok to escape and skip his July 27 trial, that he could commit another crime and that he could create social chaos.
Sok argued that the court was keeping him in pretrial detention beyond what was allowed in the Criminal Procedure Code. Article 204 of the code prevents the court from detaining individuals charged with crimes having less than a one-year sentence, and Article 209 limits the detention to half of the lower limit of the prescribed sentence.
“I cannot even write the name of Prime Minister Hun Sen or notes for my trial day preparation. The prison guards will then seize my book,” Sok said.
However, Hun Sen’s lawyer, Ky Tech, said Sok would commit more crimes if let go, appearing to suggest his speaking to journalists at a previous Appeal Court hearing amounted to a criminal act.
“Just walking past the journalists he committed another crime, so how about in 10 days – how many crimes could he commit?” he said, referring to the number days until the trial.