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Unionist's killing case at city court

LABOUR leader Chea Vichea's murder case was sent back Monday to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for further investigation, a judicial official said Wednesday, following last month's order by the Court of Appeal to reopen a probe into the killing for which two men are widely believed to have been wrongly convicted.

"We've decided to send [the case] back to Municipal Court because they can cooperate well with the police in the investigation," Court of Appeal judge Chuon Sunleng said, adding that once the probe is completed, the Appeal Court will schedule another hearing to consider any new information.

Chea Vichea, former head of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, was gunned down on January 22, 2004, while buying a newspaper near Wat Lanka.

Two men, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were convicted of the crime the same year in a trial that was widely condemned by Cambodian and international rights groups.

The Supreme Court ordered their provisional release in December 2008, citing contradictory evidence in their previous trial, and the pair remain free pending the new investigation.

Sok Sam Oeun's lawyer, Hong Kim Suon, said it was too early to tell whether this second investigation will be fair.

"We always believed that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were innocent. The Court of Appeal and Supreme Court acknowledged this fact," he said.

Chea Mony, Chea Vichea's brother and president of the Free Trade Union, expressed anger at the Kingdom's judiciary for taking five years to review the case. "I am waiting to see if this new investigation discovers the real killers or not."

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