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Calls to free convicted attacker

Calls to free convicted attacker

111208_03
Kampong Chhnang villagers involved in a land dispute with KDC International protest at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh yesterday.

At least 50 people from Kampong Chhnang province’s Lor Peang village gathered at the Supreme Court yesterday to support a former village representative fighting to have an attempted murder conviction overturned.

The villagers, who have been locked in a bitter, nearly decade-long land dispute with company KDC International, arrived in the capital on Tuesday night and began the walk from the Kilaing pagoda, where they were staying, to the Supreme Court about 3am.

Reach Seima, a villager from Lor Peang, said the group made the journey to the court in the hope it would drop the charges against Sar Song, a former village representative, after his initial appeal to the Appeals Court was denied.

“We want to know how the Supreme Court will handle people who are not guilty, because he [Sor Song] was already shown injustice by the provincial court’s decision,” he said.

Sor Song was arrested in 2007 and accused of beating a man with a piece of wood during an argument about ownership of land near Lor Peang, even though KDC claimed legal ownership of a majority of the land surrounding the village.

Sar Song was charged with attempted murder and sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.

His appeal to the Appeals Court was denied.

Sar Song’s defence attorney, Reach Seima, said her defendant had not been allowed to attend the initial appeals hearing yesterday at the Supreme Court.

“If only I am at the hearing, the result will be the same as the Appeals Court, and they cannot provide justice for my client. They should allow my client to come talk during the hearing,” the defence attorney said.

Chan Soveth, senior investigator for the rights group Adhoc, did not believe the Supreme Court would overturn its decision, based on the fact the defendant was not being given the opportunity to testify at the hearing.

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