The Supreme Court on Monday deferred until next week its decision on a bail request by Kung Raiya, charged with incitement after printing T-shirts with the image of Kem Ley ahead of the third anniversary of his murder.
Raiya outlined to Judge Khim Pon and prosecutor Duch Kimsorn the reasons for his request, saying he had an elderly mother and young child to look after.
He also said there was a backlog of work at his printing shop with his wife unable to manage since he was arrested.
Raiya was detained on July 9, a day before the third anniversary of the killing of Ley, for printing T-shirts with pictures and sayings of the slain political analyst that were deemed incitement.
He was placed in pre-trial detention on July 11 after having been charged with “incitement to commit a felony”, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison if found guilty. The Appeal Court rejected a previous bail request in mid-August.
Raiya’s lawyer Sam Sokong told The Post after the hearing on Monday that it was not necessary to keep his client behind bars because he was only charged with a misdemeanour offence.
He said his client had made the bail request due to health problems and the difficult situation at home.
“As is international principle – pre-trial detention is ordered to carry out further investigation. The lower court’s decision said the detention of Kung Raiya was made to prevent him from compromising others involved and from pressuring witnesses.
“But in this case, the court has already closed the investigation and sent the case to trial. This means any additional investigation is unnecessary. Therefore, pre-trial detention is unnecessary and he should be released on bail,” Sokong said.
Sokong said that while his client’s arrest had come after he had printed the T-shirts, he had been doing so since 2017.
He said Raiya was arrested due to the situation being tense at the time of the anniversary, with authorities seeing the printing of such T-shirts as intending to bring Ley’s case back into the public eye, which could lead to violence and social disorder.
Sokong said the Supreme Court would deliver its decision next Monday morning.
Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) on Monday issued a statement calling on Cambodia to the drop charges against Raiya and Soung Neak Poan, another man arrested and facing the same charge, and to release them.
“This is yet another illustration of the Cambodian authorities’ misuse of the judiciary to keep anyone with a critical mind behind bars,” APHR claimed, warning of the excessive use of pre-trial detention.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chin Malin said Raiya had the right to a bail request, and if the Supreme Court were to reject it, he could make another.
Regarding the APHR’s statement, Malin said Cambodia had no interest in what the group had to say as it was not part of the Asean human rights mechanism.
“They usually release such statements, and there are some people in this group – including former Cambodian opposition politicians – who only issue statements attacking the Cambodian government,” Malin said.
He said there was only one official Asean human rights mechanism, the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). He said the APHR was an opposition movement group.