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Sam Rainsy appeal to be held today, court official says

THE Appeal Court plans to hold a hearing in the case that saw opposition leader Sam Rainsy sentenced to two years in jail earlier this year, after two failed attempts in recent months.

“Sam Rainsy’s appeal will be held tomorrow,” court Prosecutor Nget Sarath said.

“We will not postpone anything anymore. We have enough of everyone, including lawyers and defendants.”

Svay Rieng provincial court in January found Sam Rainsy guilty of racial incitement and destroying public property after an October 2009 incident in which he led villagers in uprooting border demarcation posts in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district. Two Svay Rieng villagers – Meas Srey and Prum Chea – received one-year jail terms in the same case.

Sam Rainsy, who is in self-imposed exile in Europe, said the posts had been placed inside Cambodia and thus constituted evidence of Vietnamese encroachment.

On June 6, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer and the lawyer for Meas Srey and Prum Chea walked out of the Appeal Court because the two villagers had not been brought to a scheduled hearing.

In August, a second attempt to hold an appeal hearing was aborted because Sam Sokong, the lawyer for the two villagers, was absent.

Yesterday, both Sam Sokong and Choung Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, said they planned to appear today.

“I do not think of hope. I am just committing to try my best to defend my client’s rights as best as I can,” Choung Choungy said. “I have strong documents and I have already prepared them to defend my client.”

Government lawyer Chan Sok Yeang, meanwhile, said he was confident that the guilty verdicts would be upheld.

Sam Sokong said yesterday that his clients had been serving pretrial detention since December, and their sentences are almost finished.

On September 23, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Sam Rainsy in absentia to 10 years in prison on charges of disinformation and falsifying public documents.

Those charges stemmed from evidence he publicised on the SRP’s website and in video press conferences following his January conviction that also alleged Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory.

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