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Bid to dismiss treason charges fails

Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, talks to the media yesterday at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh.
Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, talks to the media yesterday at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Bid to dismiss treason charges fails

The Court of Appeal yesterday ruled to keep opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour in prison, rejecting a bid by his lawyers to have his charges dismissed and arrest ruled illegal.

Appeal Court judge Khun Leang Meng upheld the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to arrest and charge the Sam Rainsy Party senator, despite his parliamentary immunity, according to Sok Hour’s lawyers Choung Choungy and Sam Sokong.

Meng declined to release Sok Hour, a dual French-Cambodian citizen, over fears the lawmaker would “cause trouble” and would escape, his lawyers said.

Sok Hour was detained by military police on August 15, days after Prime Minister Hun Sen personally called for his arrest over a “treasonous” Facebook post presenting a “fake” version of a 1979 border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Currently in Prey Sar prison, he faces three charges related to forgery and incitement which could carry a combined maximum sentence of 17 years.

His three lawyers vowed to appeal yesterday’s decision to the Supreme Court.

They cited three “illegal” breaches of procedure in the case, namely the failure to first summon their client, the violation of his immunity and the fact that it was not a real crime.

“We have seen that this enforcement is contrary to criminal procedure code,” Sokong said.

Yesterday’s session was not a bail hearing, Choungy said, adding that the Appeal Court would consider bail in the future.

On August 18, the Senate voted to allow the prosecution to continue its case against the lawmaker.

Though his immunity was not explicitly revoked, the decision appeared to invoke a clause in the Cambodian Constitution permitting arrest when a senator is caught in the act of committing a crime.

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