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Appeal Court denies Kim Sok’s bail request

Political analyst Kim Sok walks with Buddhist monks to the Phnom Penh municipal court last month, where he was arrested for defamation and inciting unrest.
Political analyst Kim Sok walks with Buddhist monks to the Phnom Penh municipal court last month, where he was arrested for defamation and inciting unrest. Heng Chivoan

Appeal Court denies Kim Sok’s bail request

The Appeal Court yesterday rejected political analyst Kim Sok’s request for bail, arguing that he might flee the country or repeat his alleged crimes of incitement and defamation.

Sok was arrested on February 17 on charges of incitement and public defamation following a complaint by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Sok had allegedly implied in an interview with Radio Free Asia that the government was behind the killing of political analyst Kem Ley - whose murder is widely considered politically motivated. He was slapped with a second suit on the same grounds over remarks made days later in an effort to clarify his previous statement.

Defence counsel Choung Choungy yesterday expressed disappointment after the two-hour, closed-door hearing, saying the decision was baseless. He said he lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court.

“The plaintiff is the prime minister, so he has soldiers, police, and all the means … Even if [Sok] wanted to escape, he couldn’t do so,” he said, adding that pre-trial detention should be used only as a last resort.

Choungy said presiding judge Nguon Im had echoed the municipal court’s assertion that Sok posed a risk of fleeing or reoffending.

The ruling CPP maintains that it exercises no influence over the judiciary, Choungy questioned whether the plaintiff’s status as prime minister had hastened the court’s response to the February 13 complaint.

“On the same day, the court called Kim Sok to give testimony on February 17,” he said. Cambodian justice seldom moved so fast.

Ky Tech, Hun Sen’s lawyer, declined to comment.

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