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Journalists group allowed to visit imprisoned newspaper publisher

Journalists group allowed to visit imprisoned newspaper publisher

After visit bringing him money and food, Club of Cambodian Journalists issues release asking Court of Appeals to fast-track Hang Chakra's case.

FOUR board members of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) were allowed to visit jailed publisher Hang Chakra in Prey Sar prison on Monday, where they said they found him to be in good health.

Khieu Kola, one of the visitors, said the CCJ board members were allowed to speak with Hang Chakra, publisher of the opposition-aligned Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, for about 40 minutes, adding that they also brought him US$60 and some food.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court last month found Hang Chakra, 55, guilty of disinformation under the UNTAC Criminal Code in connection with a series of articles he 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 ($2,156).

Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers and other supporters said earlier this month that they had been prevented from visiting Hang Chakra, though Sam Ny, director of operations at the Ministry of Interior's prisons department, said requests to visit Hang Chakra were being processed in the same manner as requests to visit any prisoner.

After the visit, Khieu Kola said, "Chakra told me that his reporter wrote the articles, but that as publisher he had to take responsibility for them."

State of the appeal
Chuong Chou Ngy, Hang Chakra's lawyer, said Tuesday that his client's case had been sent from the Municipal Court to the Court of Appeal on Monday, though he said he had not yet received word of a hearing date.

A CCJ press release issued Tuesday evening called on the Court of Appeal to expedite the case.

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