Jailed senator’s wife says ‘extra fees’ from guards limit her ability to visit
The wife of Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour says “extra fees” exacted by prison guards have forced her to limit her visits to her husband, while authorities yesterday rejected the imprisoned lawmaker’s second request to receive medical treatment from an outside doctor.
Kun Lum Ang said she tried to visit her husband at Prey Sar prison at least twice a week to bring food and medicine, with her husband suffering from high blood pressure and stomach problems.
However, some weeks, Lum Ang said, she could only afford one trip as she was made to pay an extra fee by prison guards.
Though Sok Hour was receiving medical attention in the prison’s health centre, Lum Ang said the family was concerned about his “worsening” health.
She said the family has twice requested a doctor from rights group Licadho be permitted to visit the senator.
But yesterday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Kor Vandy, overseeing Sok Hour’s case, rejected the application.
“The prison says their doctors are enough but we don’t think so,” Lum Ang said, adding that her husband resided in a small room with 17 other inmates.
“We need expert doctors who know his disease … I’m worried about his health. He has lost weight and looks very skinny.”
According to Sok Hour’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, the first request for the medical visit was dismissed because the investigation was still ongoing.
However, given that Vandy finished his investigation this week, Choungy alleged that yesterday’s decision was purely political. “It’s political bias. My client is a senator and has had his immunity violated,” he said.
Vandy could not be reached. Meanwhile, Prisons Department director-general Kuy Bun Sorn declined to comment about claims prison guards were asking for bribes.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for human rights group Licadho, said the group visited each of Cambodia’s 18 prisons twice a month to provide healthcare to inmates.
However, with political cases like Sok Hour’s, the general department of prisons requires an “additional request” to be lodged, he said.
Sok Hour was detained on August 15 for posting a “fake” version of a 1979 border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam, which Prime Minister Hun Sen labelled “treasonous’. He faces three charges related to incitement and forgery.
Yesterday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Taing Sunlay confirmed the investigation of Sok Hour’s case was finished but said a trial date had not been set.