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Commune chief asks for bail at high court

Former CNRP Commune Chief Chao Veasna seen in a police vehicle outside the Supreme Court yesterday in Phnom Penh, where he was tried for a case relating to a 2015 protest allegedly led at a local customs office.
Former CNRP Commune Chief Chao Veasna seen in a police vehicle outside the Supreme Court yesterday in Phnom Penh, where he was tried for a case relating to a 2015 protest allegedly led at a local customs office. Pha Lina

Commune chief asks for bail at high court

Jailed opposition Commune Chief Chao Veasna yesterday asked the Supreme Court for bail after he was put in pre-trial detention for allegedly leading a protest at a Poipet customs office – a 2015 case that was resurrected months prior to the June commune elections.

The Poipet commune chief, who won the June 4 ballot for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was brought to Phnom Penh to plead his case despite being briefly admitted to a Banteay Meanchey hospital in June for an appendix operation and other existing medical conditions.

“I filed the complaint to ask the court to release me on bail since I have a gallstone, hyperacidity and calcium deficiency,” he said in court yesterday. “Therefore, I am asking the judge to release me on bail so that I can get medical treatment.”

Rocks litter the ground at the Poipet Customs Department, where dozens of windows were broken by protesters in May of 2015.
Rocks litter the ground at the Poipet Customs Department, where dozens of windows were broken by protesters in May of 2015. Photo supplied

The bail application was strongly opposed by Prosecutor Chan Dararaksmey. A decision is expected on Monday.

“He is a commune chief, but he has committed the crime so the Penal Code must be implemented,” Dararaksmey said. “I would like the court to uphold the [Appeal Court’s] decision.”

A 2015 dispute over customs taxes prompted cross-border porters to stage a protest, which soon turned violent, with protesters throwing bricks at the local customs office and burning tyres. Military Police retaliated by beating them and firing shots in the air.

Veasna has maintained that he was only observing the protest as a commune official, a point reiterated by his lawyer Choung Choungy.

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