Moments after Prak Sovannary heard the Court of Appeal denied her husband’s request for bail, she sobbed over a speaker affixed to the top of a tuk-tuk, condemning the decision to about 150 supporters.
“Release him! Release him!” said Sovannary, the wife of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president Vorn Pov, who was arrested at a garment worker demonstration in January.
“He was detained as a criminal, but he is a patriot and a peace lover,” she said.
Presiding judge Seng Sivutha said in court he denied bail because it could “affect judicial procedures”, said Kim Socheat, one of Pov’s attorneys.
Sivutha also upheld a Phnom Penh Municipal Court decision that ruled against IDEA members seeking the return of equipment confiscated during the January 2 demonstration at the Yakjin garment factory.
The Appeal Court last month denied a bail request for Pov and 20 other detainees arrested during the Yakjin protest and a demonstration the next day on Veng Sreng Boulevard, where authorities shot at least four people dead.
Charges for Pov and three others in the group have been reduced to two counts of inciting violence, which holds a maximum prison sentence of two years, said Sam Sokong, another of Pov’s attorneys. Previous charges against Pov held a maximum sentence of five years.
“I think these charges are minor if compared with prior charges,” said Sokong, who added that he was unhappy Pov could not attend yesterday’s proceedings.
The car at Kampong Cham’s Correctional Centre 3, where Pov and 20 other detainees are being held, was at the mechanic, preventing officials to bring Pov to Phnom Penh, CC3 director Kea Sovanna said.
IDEA members, land rights activists and representatives of several unions were among those gathered outside the court complex gates during yesterday’s hearing. The group held banners and shouted slogans in support of Pov’s release.
The Supreme Court has received but not set a hearing date for an appeal filed after the Appeal Court’s decision last month.