Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Imprisoned publisher looks seriously ill, say lawyer, NGO

Imprisoned publisher looks seriously ill, say lawyer, NGO

Imprisoned publisher looks seriously ill, say lawyer, NGO

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Hang Chakra appears in Appeal Court earlier this month.

Spartan, crowded cells may be taking a toll: Licadho president.

THE health of Hang Chakra has deteriorated since his incarceration, the jailed newspaper publisher's lawyer told the Post on Monday.

Hang Chakra, the publisher of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, was convicted in June of defamation and publishing false information in connection with a series of articles published in April and May accusing officials working under Deputy Prime Minister Sok An of corruption. He was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 9 million riels (US$2,187). The Court of Appeal rejected his case on August 11.

Choung Chou Ngy, the lawyer for Hang Chakra, said that his client was currently sick with "a very bad cold", and that he had lost weight. "I feel very concerned about his faltering health," Choung Chou Ngy said.

Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, said she was "very worried" about Hang Chakra's condition after meeting with him last week. She suggested that poor conditions at Prey Sar prison may be playing a role in his health problems.

"The detention cells are very small but are filled with many prisoners. It is difficult to breathe, and prisoners lack proper sanitation and food, so all in all, it's very easy for them to get diseases," she said.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for Licadho, said that his organisation would be sending a doctor "early this week" to check on Hang Chakra after being informed of the publisher's ailments by his lawyer and family.

Sam Ny, a deputy director of operations at the Ministry of Interior, said that prison officials are giving due attention to Hang Chakra and other prisoners. "We have doctors stationed at the prison to check up on prisoners' health regularly, but if Hang Chakra's health condition is serious, we will send him for medical treatment at an outside hospital," he said.

Choung Chou Ngy said he was unsure of whether his client would appeal his conviction in the Supreme Court, and that he had worried about Hang Chakra's health problems since his poor performance at the Court of Appeal hearing two weeks ago.

"He couldn't keep his composure during his testimony at the Appeal Court hearing on August 11. He answered questions very differently from how I had counseled him to answer beforehand," Choung Chou Ngy said.

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