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Publisher's lawyer challenges jailing

THE LAWYER for jailed opposition publisher Hang Chakra has sent a letter to Phnom Penh Municipal Court asking for his client to be released for health reasons, though he said Thursday that he had not yet received a response.

Hang Chakra's family has said that the 55-year-old publisher suffers from "multiple illnesses", though his lawyer, Choung Chou Ngy, declined to elaborate on them Thursday.

Choung Chou Ngy told the Post that he also planned to ask the court to return items taken from Hang Chakra when he was arrested last Friday, including more than US$200 and three mobile phones.

"These items were seized by the court when my client was brought to the court," Choung Chou Ngy said. "So far they have not been returned."

Phnom Penh Municipal Court President Chiv Keng declined to comment on whether the request for Hang Chakra's release would be considered.

Chiv Keng said Hang Chakra's personal effects would be returned to him if the court deemed them irrelevant to the case against him.

Hang Chakra, who publishes the Khmer Machas Srok News, was sentenced to one year in prison after a judge last week found him guilty of publishing false information pertaining to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and his staff.

Sourng Sophea, a lawyer for the Community Legal Education Centre, said the court was obligated to return Hang Chakra's belongings if they were unrelated to his offences.

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