Boeung Kak community land activist Tep Vanny was freed from Prey Sar prison on Monday night after a release warrant was issued by Phnom Penh Municipal Court. This followed a Royal Pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni.
Three other Boeung Kak land activists were also released by Royal Pardon on Monday night, which came at the request of prime minister-designate Hun Sen.
The release warrant issued by Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Kuch Kimlong said that Vanny had been sentenced to two years and six months in prison for intentional violence with aggravating circumstances, and had also received a six-month sentence for insulting and disobeying public officials.
“As per the power of the above Royal Decree, Tep Vanny is released . . . released to walk free,” the release warrant stated.
The King’s Royal Decree also pardoned other Boeung Kak activists Heng Mom, Bo Chhorvy and Kong Chantha.
Vanny, 27, was detained by the court on August 15, 2016, and had served more than two years of her sentence.
Fellow Boeung Kak activist Puthi Sak told The Post on Monday night that he hoped the move would help reduce political tensions and that the Cambodian government would continue with such action.
He said: “I think this will help to reduce political tensions, and we, as friends of the victims who were released, are very happy and excited.
“I hope this release will extend to other [jailed] human rights activists in order to ensure peace of mind for all Cambodians.”
Phan Chhun Reth, another Boeung Kak activist, also expressed her delight at Monday night’s developments, saying: “I am very happy to hear the news of [Vanny’s] release. Now everybody is dancing in the village. Nothing could be happier news than this.”
Am Sam Ath, investigation head at human rights NGO Licadho, said: “I welcome this release after the pardon by Royal Decree, but Tep Vanny was unjustly imprisoned for more than two years after she and the Boeung Kak community had only protested to demand a solution to their land dispute.
“Vanny’s release came after a series of condemnations and demands from the international community and national bodies. I think this development came about because the new government, which will be formed soon, will want to get support from the international community.”
Vanny was serving a 30-month prison sentence for a 2013 protest that turned violent, while also serving a six-month sentence for a separate protest outside City Hall.