Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Judge rejects activists’ appeal in Sokha 'mistress' case

Judge rejects activists’ appeal in Sokha 'mistress' case

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Adhoc’s Ny Sokha (centre left) and Yi Soksan (centre right) are escorted through the ground of the Phnom Penh Appeal Court yesterday afternoon ahead of their hearing. Heng Chivoan

Judge rejects activists’ appeal in Sokha 'mistress' case

Four employees from rights group Adhoc and an election official charged in connection with opposition leader Kem Sokha’s alleged sexual affair are set to languish longer behind bars after the Appeal Court yesterday threw out an appeal of their prolonged pre-trial detention.

The group, arrested in May for allegedly bribing Sokha’s purported mistress to stay quiet about the alleged affair, had appealed a decision by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to extend their pre-trial detention beyond the six-month limit stipulated under Cambodian law for a felony offence.

Speaking after yesterday’s three-hour afternoon hearing, attorney for the jailed Adhoc staffers Ky Sophal said the Appeal Court had upheld the municipal court’s decision. “The court said that the delay of detention is right because . . . the investigation of this case had not ended yet and it is a [felony] crime, so they can ask for the delay for the detention,” she said.

According to Cambodia’s Criminal Procedure Code, an investigating judge can request an additional six-month term of pre-trial imprisonment twice, provided they have a “well-reasoned” argument.

The group has been charged with bribing a witness, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

The charge concerns $204 Adhoc gave hairdresser Khom Chandaraty for travel and food costs when she was seeking the group’s help after being named as Sokha’s mistress following the release of covertly recorded phone conversations, the provenance of which has never been investigated.

The case is one of several connected to Sokha’s alleged affair. The associated investigation and prosecutions are widely seen as politically motivated attacks against government opponents.

The opposition leader himself has been sentenced to five months in prison for refusing to appear for questioning over the case. While technically free on appeal, he has remained largely holed up in CNRP headquarters since a May arrest attempt.

Speaking yesterday, imprisoned Adhoc staffer Lem Mony called their prolonged detention “very unfair”.

Her colleague Nay Vanda, meanwhile, focused his attention on recent threats by the government to kick the UN’s Office for the High Commission of Human Rights out of the country, calling for the organisation’s mandate to continue.

“If there is no UN, the human rights violations will be more serious,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Shanxi wins bid to build sections of new Siem Reap airport

    Shanxi Mechanization Construction Group recently won the bid to build two sections of the new Siem Reap Angkor International Airport project in Cambodia for 290 million yuan ($42.16 million). The existing Angkor International Airport in Siem Reap, 5km from the famous ancient temple complex and world tourism

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • VIP prison scrapped amid much criticism

    The Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday that Cambodia’s first privately run prison, which was to allow prisoners with enough money to upgrade to more comfortable cells, has been scrapped. Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said studies had found that no other country in the