Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Adhoc 5’ released on bail in case widely seen as political

‘Adhoc 5’ released on bail in case widely seen as political

Deputy Secretary-General of Cambodia’s National Election Committee and former Adhoc staffer Ny Chakrya speaks to the press following his release yesterday from PJ prison, where he had languished in pretrial detention for over a year.
Deputy Secretary-General of Cambodia’s National Election Committee and former Adhoc staffer Ny Chakrya speaks to the press following his release yesterday from PJ prison, where he had languished in pretrial detention for over a year. Sreng Meng Srun

‘Adhoc 5’ released on bail in case widely seen as political

In a surprise move, four human rights workers and an election official, collectively known as the “Adhoc 5”, were released from pretrial detention yesterday evening, 427 days after they were taken into custody on bribery charges relating to an opposition sex scandal.

Adhoc staffers Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan and Ny Sokha, and former staffer and the National Election Committee Deputy Secretary-General Ny Chakrya were granted bail yesterday by the investigating judge, Theam Chanpiseth, under Article 276 of the Criminal Code.

The five have been languishing behind bars since April last year, when they were detained for allegedly bribing CNRP President Kem Sokha’s alleged mistress, Khom Chandaraty, to deny a purported extramarital affair. The case has been widely criticised as politically motivated, and the five have strenuously denied the allegations.

A closing order has been issued and the case will now proceed to trial, though a date has not been set. Until then, the five will be free on bail on three conditions, according to Court Administrator Y Rin.

“The court put them under supervision and placed three conditions: they cannot change their residence without permission from the court, and cannot leave the country without the court permission, and must answer to the summons,” Rin said.

Rin offered no further explanation for the release of the prisoners, saying “this is the judge’s decision”.

While the four Adhoc staffers walked out of Prey Sar prison’s CC1 and CC2 detention centres, Chakrya of the NEC was released a little later from PJ prison after a delay in getting the court document to the prison officials.

After a quick blessing ceremony by monks, the four human rights staffers headed to the Adhoc office, while Chakrya went home with his family.

NEC official Ny Chakrya shares a happy moment with his family in Phnom Penh yesterday evening after his release from more than a year in pre-trial detention. Photo supplied
NEC official Ny Chakrya shares a happy moment with his family in Phnom Penh yesterday evening after his release from more than a year in pre-trial detention. Photo supplied

At the Adhoc office, Nay Vanda said he was caught off guard when at 6pm he was informed by prison officials that they would be released and were asked to change into civilian clothes.

“It made me surprised that we got released, and we were so happy to meet our family, comrades and friends,” Vanda added.

Lim Mony said she was thrilled to have left prison, but stood by her activities as a human rights staffer and vowed to continue her work with children and women’s issues.

“I believe that what I did is right under the rules of Cambodia and Adhoc. I still have a very strong commitment to help Cambodians, women and children, as my duty for Adhoc,” said Mony.

Lim Mony after receiving a blessing from a monk last night in Phnom Penh.
Lim Mony after receiving a blessing from a monk last night in Phnom Penh.

Yi Soksan said he was unsure why they had been released yesterday, given that their lawyers had unsuccessfully made multiple requests for bail, but speculated that it may have had something to do with a recent meeting between the US Ambassador William Heidt and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“I assume it could be the US ambassador, who had a meeting and dialogue with Prime Minister Hun Sen, and one of the agenda [points] must have been the human rights situation in Cambodia,” he said.

Embassy spokesman Jay Raman could not be reached for comment.

Outside PJ prison, Ny Chakrya said he was keen to get back to work and continue his responsibilities at the National Election Committee, with Ny Sokha, back at the Adhoc office, regretting that he had missed the opportunity to monitor the recently concluded commune elections.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Adhoc officials (from left) Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha and Yi Soksan (grey hair, facing away) hold a press conference last night at Phnom Penh’s Adhoc office after their release on bail. Yon Sineat

Political commentator Cham Bunteth said the release was a welcome move, but added the threat of legal action still hanging over the five meant they would be kept in check.

“The case is still there, so they can be called back anytime,” he said. “It depends on their behaviour towards politics and if they are seen as politically leaning to favour the opposition.”

Ou Virak, head of Future Forum think tank, said that public opinion was strongly against the detention of the five and that there was no legitimate reason to continue to keep them behind bars. He added that Adhoc, which is one of the oldest NGOs in Cambodia, would find it difficult to recuperate from the year-long ordeal of having some of its most senior members in prison.

“I don’t think Adhoc will ever be the same after what has happened. There is no leadership and they will have to make some decisions.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • PM orders immediate action against ‘sexy’ live streamers

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered immediate action against women who live stream their sales pitches on Facebook wearing revealing clothing. The prime minister said the practice erodes traditional Cambodian values and disgraces women. Hun Sen gave the order to officials attending the Cambodian

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank

  • Tourist area greenlit in Sihanoukville

    The National Committee for Coastal Management and Development will coordinate with relevant ministries over the establishment of a billion-dollar tourist area named Neak Reach in Preah Sihanouk province after it was proposed by the Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and

  • PM issues human rights circular

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday issued a circular urging officials at all levels to work more closely with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) to protect human rights in Cambodia. In the circular, Hun Sen urged all institutions to collaborate closely with CHRC, including

  • Organic vegetable retailer unveils QR code scheme for origin source

    Organic vegetable retailer Natural Agriculture Village has introduced QR codes on its product packaging, which will allow consumers to see where their produce comes from. Natural Agriculture Village president Bun Sieng, who is also a member of local distributor Green Gold, told The Post on