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High court hears Sovannara travel appeal

Jailed CNRP official Meach Sovannara appears at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Jailed CNRP official Meach Sovannara appears at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. Heng Chivoan

High court hears Sovannara travel appeal

The Supreme Court yesterday heard the appeal of a decision barring CNRP official and US citizen Meach Sovannara from seeking medical treatment in the US while he serves a 20-year sentence for “leading an insurrection”.

Sovannara told presiding judge Kem Sathavy that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to not allow him to travel was unjust, because he needed a check up over a 2015 traffic accident in the US.

However, Chhuon Chantha, a deputy Supreme Court prosecutor, maintained the lower court’s decision was correct. “The court made the decision, so the convict will get nothing from this request,” Chantha said.

Sovannara, who is suing the Cambodian government in the US for his jailing, was sentenced over a violent July 2014 Freedom Park protest in a trial based on questionable evidence during a time of tense negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties.

A lawyer for Sovannara, Choung Choungy, said he hoped the travel ban would simply be annulled. “In choosing a doctor, everyone has the freedom to choose one they trust,” he said. “I ask the court to annul this verdict.”

A verdict is due October 26.

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