The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the convictions and six-month sentences of three Boeung Kak activists – including Tep Vanny – for allegedly obstructing and insulting public officials during a 2011 demonstration outside Phnom Penh City Hall.
Vanny, Bo Chhorvy, Kong Chantha and Heng Mom – who was not part of the appeal – were originally sentenced in September 2016, five years after an effort by some 100 community activists to deliver a petition to City Hall turned violent when security forces tried to disperse them. The activists were delivering the petition on behalf of 94 families excluded from a resettlement deal to make way for a massive development by the company Shukaku Inc, headed by ruling party Senator Lao Meng Khin. Authorities accused the four of attacking and “insulting” security officials.
According to a statement from rights NGO Licadho, neither the plaintiffs’ lawyers nor witnesses were present during the appeal process. “As in earlier court hearings on this case, insufficient evidence was presented to meet the legal standards for proof,” it reads.
Read more: Boeung Kak: A Disastrous Decade
Court spokesman Nov Monichoth confirmed yesterday the verdict was upheld and declined to comment on alleged irregularities. He also could not confirm when Chhorvy and Chantha, who were out on bail, will begin to serve their sentences.
Vanny has been in Prey Sar prison since August 2016, and is already serving a 30-month sentence for her alleged role in a 2013 demonstration outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house.
Additional reporting by Mech Dara