In a royal decree signed on Monday night, King Norodom Sihamoni pardoned 14 former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) officials, including senior official Meach Sovannara, at the request of prime minister-designate Hun Sen.
They were released last night.
Some 300 people, including former senior CNRP officials, had gathered in front of Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh late into the night, after Sovannara’s wife posted news on her Facebook page that former CNRP officials and activists would be released.
“I’m so excited that my husband, Meach Sovannara, and others are changing clothes and filling out forms for their release,” she said.
The royal pardon was made after Sovannara and other activists wrote a letter to Hun Sen seeking to be released amid a wake of pardons for political activists since the July 29 national elections.
Convicted by the capital’s municipal court in July 2015 on charges related to a political demonstration at Freedom Park the year before, the opposition members are serving between seven and 20 years behind bars.
Their sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court in June.
“We have been imprisoned for more than three years. We all regret joining the demonstration at Freedom Park which seriously affected security and social order,” the letter, dated Friday, read.
“We would like to promise that from now on we will not join any demonstration or any activity with such consideration.
“We respect the Constitution and other laws and wish to participate in protecting the peace that Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] has made great efforts to achieve and maintain for the development of our country,” they wrote, asking the prime minister to request a pardon for them.
Beside Sovannara, the other signatories were Khin Roeun, Neang Sokhun, San Kim Heng, San Seyhak, Ouk Pich Samnang, Tep Narin, Oeu Narith, An Bathom, Keo Khim, Roeun Chetra and Sum Puthy.
Yin Kimhuor and Yea Thong, two other CNRP members who did not sign the letter, were also pardoned.