The Appeal court in Phnom Penh has heard the case of jailed journalist Ros Sokhet, who last year received a two-year sentence after Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted him of disinformation.
The case against Ros Sokhet stems from a series of text messages he sent to prominent commentator and news anchor Soy Sopheap.
During his trial, the prosecution said Ros Sokhet used the messages to accuse Soy Sopheap of demanding money from a woman arrested for firing a pistol illegally in exchange for keeping her story out of the press.
During the hearing, Ros Sokhet noted that the date announced for the verdict on the appeal – October 28 – would fall exactly one year to the day after he was first imprisoned.
“I filed the appeal because I am not satisfied with the decision of this court, which hadn’t clearly investigated this case but arrested me and convicted me immediately after,” he said. “They acted just like they are gods.”
Ros Sokhet’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, reiterated the defence’s position that the information in the messages had been passed to Ros Sokhet by colleagues, and that he was sending them along to Soy Sopheap for clarification.
Last week, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith and representatives of the Press Council of Cambodia met to discuss Ros Sokhet’s request for government intervention in his case.
PCC president Sok Sovann said that a Khmer translation of the minutes of the meeting would be sent to the Justice Ministry. “I believe that the Appeal Court will lift the decision and set him free,” he said.
Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment.