Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Activist Yorm Bopha again found guilty

Activist Yorm Bopha again found guilty

Land rights activist Yorm Bopha arrives yesterday at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, where she was handed a three-year, largely suspended sentence for intentional violence.
Land rights activist Yorm Bopha arrives yesterday at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, where she was handed a three-year, largely suspended sentence for intentional violence. Hong Menea

Activist Yorm Bopha again found guilty

Prominent Boeung Kak land rights activist Yorm Bopha has again been found guilty of organising the beating of two motodops in 2012, this time by the Court of Appeal, but will not face any additional jail time.

Bopha, 32, spent a year and eight days behind bars after originally being found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison over the attack.

However, following an international campaign seeking her release, in November of 2013, the Supreme Court ordered Bopha be granted bail and the case sent to the Appeal Court.

Bopha was yesterday once again sentenced to three years in prison, but the remainder of the sentence was suspended. She was also ordered to pay the victims 10 million riel (about $2,500). No reasoning was provided in court for the verdict.

Bopha’s ex-husband, Lous Sakhon, who had already received a three-year suspended sentence for the beatings, also was ordered to pay 10 million riel. The pair was originally fined a total of 60 million riel.

E Sophors, president of the motodop group the Cambodia Confederation Development Association, said the ruling was “justice”. “Even though the amount was decreased, at least [the victims] got something,” he said. “I think the court is providing justice because we have been waiting for years and they have not received any compensation for their injuries.”

Vath Sarath, 53, father of Vath Thaiseng, one of the attacked motodops, and uncle to the other, Nget Chet, said that 20 million riel was not much. “My son and nephew suffered a lot. I would suggest [Bopha] stop here at the Appeal Court.”

But Bopha said she plans to make another appeal, this time with the Supreme Court, even though she felt “hopeless” about the result. “The Appeal Court does not do their work, because they have not given me justice yet.

Because I am a land activist, that is why authorities are framing me. They want to silence those activists, but I want to say I will not stop here.”

Human rights veterans expressed concern with the verdict. “Having followed the case closely with Amnesty International, which campaigned for Yorm Bopha’s release when she was convicted and jailed, there was not strong evidence [against her], so I’m disappointed in the verdict, but I’m pleased she’s not going to prison,” said Rupert Abbott, who recently left the NGO and is now a human rights consultant.

He added the verdict was emblematic of a broader climate of government restrictions on activists’ right to assembly and expression.

Environmental activist Chum Hout said: “The court in Cambodia always suppresses those who are outstanding activists, just like in the Yorm Bopha case and the three environmental activists in Koh Kong.”

Bopha’s two brothers, charged with carrying out the attacks, were not in court and their verdicts were not announced.

Additional reporting by Donna M Airoldi

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Phnom Penh condo market loses steam

    Just four new condominiums were launched for sale last year in the capital, down from 17 in 2020, according to research by CBRE Cambodia. The four developments comprised “more than 1,000” units, while the 17 in 2020 consisted of 10,866, the real estate firm reported. CBRE Cambodia categorises condos as “high-range”, “

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused