Th Court of Appeal yesterday upheld a verdict against Sourn Serey Ratha, leader of the dissident Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM), two KPPM affiliates and a non-party member who were all found guilty in January of treason.
During a two-hour hearing yesterday afternoon, presiding judge Pak Chansambo questioned three of the defendants – KPPM members Serey Bunlong, Sen Someng and civilian Oum Phirum – over charges that they distributed T-shirts with slogans warning citizens to abstain from voting in the 2013 national election. Serey Ratha, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US and did not attend the hearing, was found guilty of a range of crimes spanning many years.
Chansambo said the verdicts against all four would be upheld: Bunlong, Someng and Phirum were previously sentenced to six years in prison and fined about $1,250, while Serey Ratha was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined about $6,250.
Defence lawyer Sok Sam Oeun, said Serey Ratha – who is in the process of trying to register a political party – was merely being critical of the government, not trying to violently overthrow it. Such criticism “is normal for other political parties”, he said.