Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawmaker’s bail denied to prevent ‘social unrest’

Lawmaker’s bail denied to prevent ‘social unrest’

Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An is escorted into the Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An is escorted into the Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh yesterday. Hong Menea

Lawmaker’s bail denied to prevent ‘social unrest’

The Appeal Court yesterday ruled that CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An must stay in custody on the grounds that he is a threat to social stability and may meddle in the case against him.

Sam An was arrested on April 11 for past criticisms of the government’s border policy after returning from an extended trip to the US, where he is also a citizen.

Sam An’s lawyers yesterday appealed the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to deny their client bail. The appeal chamber was in session for about two hours before upholding the previous ruling.

Outside the court, Sam An’s lawyers vowed to launch another appeal in the Supreme Court ahead of a scheduled hearing on May 25.

Prior to yesterday’s hearing, the parliamentarian declared his incarceration “unconstitutional” as he was led past reporters in hand-cuffs.

“The person who protects the territory is in prison, and the person who caused the loss of territory becomes a patriot,” he said.

Lawyer Choung Choungy said the judge had cited the potential for “social unrest” if Sam An were released, and also suggested the parliamentarian might attempt to influence the case.

Chairman of the appeal panel Phou Sao Sun said an ongoing probe meant the lawmaker should remain in custody.

“If we let him out on bail, it will impede the investigation,” Sao Sun said.

Sam An is charged with incitement offences for alleging in a Facebook post that Cambodian authorities had ceded land to Vietnam by using improper maps to demarcate the border.

The sensitive issue flared into a political storm last year, and also saw opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour arrested for a border-related Facebook post in August.

Both Sam An and Sok Hour enjoy parliamentary immunity under the constitution, which their lawyers, and party, say has been violated.

The authorities, however, have broadly interpreted a clause that allows them to arrest lawmakers caught in the act – or in flagrante delicto – to justify the arrests, which have been widely slammed as politically motivated.

Sok Hour’s trial, meanwhile, has stalled midway to allow prosecutors time to dig-up more evidence.

Choungy, who also acts for the senator, said a Supreme Court hearing was scheduled for June 8 to contest the lower court’s handling of the case.

However, he said, the men’s freedom was ultimately dependent on a political resolution.

Yesterday, rights group Licadho launched a webpage to highlight the growing number of political prisoners in Cambodia, which currently stands at 29 individuals, they said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied