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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Similar case of slain union leader raises hopes ahead of appeal

Similar case of slain union leader raises hopes ahead of appeal

Thach Saveth is a 'fake killer’, rights group and his lawyer say, drawing parallels to murder trial of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun.


Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun obtained their release at a hearing of the Supreme Court. Today's hearing for Thach Saveth will be held in the Court of Appeal, but those pushing for his release say they hope to see the same eventual outcome. 

BOTH cases involve a dead union leader, a gunman or gunmen who managed to flee the scene of the crime and suspects held on charges deemed groundless by rights groups.

In an interview with the Post Tuesday, Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said today's hearing at the Court of Appeal should ultimately lead to another similarity between the cases of slain union leaders Chea Vichea and Ros Sovannareth: the successful appeal of the original conviction.

Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun obtained their provisional release at a December 31 Supreme Court hearing after serving nearly five years for the killing of Chea Vichea, who was gunned down in 2004 near Wat Lanka while buying a newspaper.  

After being incarcerated for roughly the same length of time, Thach Saveth, who was convicted in 2005 of killing Ros Sovannareth, the president of the workers union at Trinunggal Komara garment factory, now has a hearing of his own.

[The prosecution] has no credible        evidence or witnesses to prove the case.

A flimsy case?

 Am Sath Ath, who has followed both cases, said interviews with Thach Saveth have led him to believe he is "a fake killer".
"It is similar to the case of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun in that [the prosecution has] no credible evidence or witnesses to prove the case," he said.

Sam Chamroeun, Thach Saveth's attorney, also described the prosecution's case as light on both witnesses and evidence.

The mother of the accused, Huon Phalla, 46, who said she planned to attend today's hearing, said she has requested local and international NGOs "to actively investigate the case to find justice for my son because he is not guilty but he has stayed in jail for nearly five years".

She said her son had been "brutally detained" at the police station in Tuol Kok district for four days at the time of his arrest, during which police charged him only with doing drugs.

Sam Chamroeun said he hoped he would be allowed to present a full case on behalf of his client.

"I requested the court at tomorrow's hearing  allow both the defence and prosecution witnesses to be present for questioning," he said Tuesday.



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