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Court hears appeal of Tep Vanny, activists

Tep Vanny escorted by officials after her bail request was denied in Appeals Court yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Tep Vanny escorted by officials after her bail request was denied in Appeals Court yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Court hears appeal of Tep Vanny, activists

Tep Vanny and three fellow Boeung Kak activists yesterday maintained their innocence and requested all charges be dropped as they contested their six-month prison sentences handed down over a 2011 clash between their community and security personnel.

The four - Vanny, Bor Chorvy, Kong Chantha and Heng Mom - were sentenced on September 19 on charges of insulting and obstructing public officials. The case had lay fallow for some five years before being resurrected following Vanny’s August 15 arrest for conducting a “cursing ceremony” as part of the so-called Black Monday campaign.

Vanny yesterday told the court that she and the other activists - all of whom but Vanny are currently free on bail - had been arrested in 2011 almost immediately after arriving at the Municipal Hall to submit a petition about their land dispute.

“They detained me overnight, although I had not used any violence,” she said.

Neither of the two plaintiffs - Daun Penh security guards Hor Hoeurn and Sorm Rotha - were present or available for cross-examination yesterday. Hoeurn is also a plaintiff in another case against Vanny involving allegations of violence in 2013.

Prosecutor Sak Yuos Thavarak argued for upholding the judgment, while defence lawyer Sam Sokunthea, from human rights group Licadho, demanded to drop the charges based on insufficient evidence.

Adhoc observer Soeng Senkorona also said he hoped the first judgment would be overturned. “The evidence . . . is not enough,” he said.

A verdict is due on February 27.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LEONIE KIJEWSKI

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