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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Scott's Charto defender promises his best

Scott's Charto defender promises his best

G AVIN Scott's Khmer defender has had no legal training and has only defended "a

couple of petty theft" charges in two years, but has promised his office will do

it's best for the British doctor.

When asked if it would be a difficult

case to win, Oum Samuel, the administration director of the Charto defenders

group, said: "Yes, very difficult."

He said there were ten other

defenders in the Charto office who could help him with the case. "All of us here

will do everything in the interests of Doctor Scott".

Samuel had defended

"a couple of cases" during his two years with Charto, "petty thefts... but no

reporter followed those cases. It was very easy to get them off."

Samuel

had, at press time, filed a bail application for Scott, adding that his verbal

application for Scott's immediate release had been refused by investigating

judge Ya Sokhan.

Samuel, 29, said he nominated himself as Scott's

guarantor for bail after the British Embassy declined for diplomatic

reasons.

Scott, sent to T3 prison on June 23 on charges of raping boys,

had previously been refused a Khmer defender from a number of

organizations.

The Cambodia Defenders Association (CADEAS) had said its

defenders were not proficient enough in English. The Cambodia Defenders Project

(CDP) was conflicted because its previous interim director had earlier given

legal advise to Licardho - one of the NGOs which laid the complaint against

Scott.

Both Charto and Licardho receive funds from the Asia

Foundation.

Samuel said he had been interested in Scott's case soon after

the doctor's arrest but had gathered from Khmer newspapers that Scott already

had a defender.

Independent English lawyer Robert Carlin - who, as a

foreigner, cannot by law represent Scott without a Khmer defender- rang Charto

"a couple of weeks ago" asking for a defender, Samuel said.

Samuel said

that, simultaneously, Asia Foundation chief Jim Klein had been talking to

Charto's program director asking that they should take Scott's case "but by the

time my program director told me (that) I had already picked up the

case."

"I'm pleased to pick it up... (we) had been trying for a while,"

he said.

Samuel, whose job included assigning cases to defenders in the

Charto office, said he decided to take the case himself, acknowledging it was a

"high-profile" one.

"To put it simply, most (of the Charto) defenders

don't speak English well," said Samuel, who was educated in the United States

and who had worked for UNTAC and previously with UNBRO in the border

camps.

"The reason is simply language. I can communicate with (Scott),"

he said.

Judge Ya Sokhan "appointed" Samuel by ordering that all requests

from Carlin to Scott, for instance asking for permission to visit prison, be

directed through Samuel, he said.

Samuel said he had visited Scott twice

in T3. "I don't know him that well, I'm trying to get to know him

better".

"I talked to him mostly to get answers, whether he committed the

crime. I just asked him to be honest, and he says he did not commit the

crime".

He said T3 was "not a comfortable place... not pleasant," but

said Scott seemed strong and was looking forward to returning to his medical

practice in town. "He knows someone is representing him now". The Post was

refused permission to visit Scott.

Asked how he would counter possible

criticisms about his inexperience, Samuel said there were not enough lawyers in

Cambodia, and fewer still wanting to take on a non-profitable criminal case. "We

will do our best for him," he said.

Samuel said he would be working in

collaboration with Carlin. "I may be more inexperienced than him but I know the

Cambodian side... He will be next to me in court."

However, Samuel

indicated that Carlin might be too "pushy" for the Cambodian legal system,

something "I will have to talk to him about".

"I personally feel that

internationally (Carlin) is very good, and he is doing things in the best

interests of Doctor Scott... but in a way I feel he is a little

pushy."

"There are certain areas like (the Cambodian legal) system,

operating that way and he can't change them overnight. I'm not talking against

him, he's good, he's experienced," Samuel said.

When asked whether Ya

Sokhan also considered Carlin "too pushy", Samuel said: "From my point that I

have seen looking at the judge's character, yes. The judge has not said anything

to me, but yes." Samuel said Scott would get a fair trial. However, he also said

he felt pressure from "VIPs, I don't know who..." both for and against

Scott.

Samuel said that he had interviewed two of the victim witnesses,

one of whom he said had been an employee fired by Scott who later broke into

Scott's house and stole a walkie-talkie.

Carlin, meanwhile, visited Scott

in prison for the first time, with Samuel, on July 25.

He said Scott was

defiant, and was ready to fight the charges.

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