Two Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court officials have asked the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia to “punish” local lawyer Put Theavy for holding a press conference criticising the court for jailing one of his clients, who is involved in a land dispute.
The July 19 letter accuses Theavy of “accusing and attacking” army General Chhorn Phlom, who was arrested in early July for allegedly grabbing land from villagers in the seaside town’s Bit Traing commune. Court President Mong Mony Chakrya and Prosecutor Chat Soreaksmey claimed that the press conference affected the secrecy of the investigation and was an attempt to confuse the public.
“The provincial court considers Put Theavy’s action as a violation to lawyer’s secret work, as mentioned in Article 7 of lawyer ethics [rules] and is considered as a penal offense according to Articles 314 and 522 of the Penal Code,” the letter reads.
Soreaksmey declined to comment on the letter, and Bar Association President Soun Visal could not be reached yesterday.
Theavy yesterday said that Phlom was part of more than 70 families that had been accused by local firm Thai Heng Long of grabbing land it owned.
He said he had objected to his client being jailed and would happily present himself before the Bar Association, but was angry that the letter was leaked to government-aligned local media outlet Fresh News before he even received it.
“Is it good or ethical also as that my name is publicly mentioned in the court’s letter to the Bar?” he said.