THE Appeal Court yesterday postponed a hearing for opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two villagers convicted earlier this year on charges related to the uprooting of border posts in Svay Rieng province.
Judge Kun Leang Meng chose to delay the hearing for three weeks after the two villagers – Meas Srey, 40, and Prum Chea, 41 – appeared without a lawyer.
The pair said that their original lawyer, Sam Sokong, was travelling abroad, and that they had refused to accept his designated replacement.
“At the next hearing, the court will proceed even if the accused do not have a lawyer,” Kun Leang Meng said.
At the hearing, defence attorney Choung Choungy represented Sam Rainsy, currently abroad to avoid the two-year jail term handed down against him in January. He said he supported the postponement because it would allow the villagers to secure their right to legal representation.
Government lawyer Chan Sok Yeang said he, too, supported the postponement, although he expressed frustration with Sam Sokong for
not informing his clients earlier of his travel plans.
“This lawyer’s mistake was that he appointed a replacement but did not inform his clients until very close to the day of the hearing,” he said.
Sam Rainsy and the two villagers were convicted by Svay Rieng provincial court in January, with the two villagers, both of Chantrea district, receiving one-year jail sentences for destruction of public property. Sam Rainsy was convicted and sentenced to two years in jail.
This is the second time that the Appeal Court has delayed the case. In June, defence lawyers walked out of the hearing because none of the defendants were present.