Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawyers split appeal for 11 CNRP activists

Lawyers split appeal for 11 CNRP activists

Cambodia National Rescue Party official Meach Sovannara leaves the Phnom Penh Appeal Court yesterday after a hearing.
Cambodia National Rescue Party official Meach Sovannara leaves the Phnom Penh Appeal Court yesterday after a hearing. Pha Lina

Lawyers split appeal for 11 CNRP activists

Defence lawyers for 11 CNRP activists found guilty of “insurrection” yesterday successfully lobbied the Appeals Court to split the activists’ appeal into two cases – one contesting the verdict and the other challenging flaws in the lower court’s procedures.

The opposition activists were given sentences of seven to 20 years last year for their alleged roles in a 2014 protest at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park that turned violent, resulting in six protesters and 39 Daun Penh district security guards, a force known for routinely using violence, being injured.

Following arguments from both sides, presiding judge Phlong Samnang agreed to split the appeal case and set aside one month for any complaints against the decision.

“If after one month there is no complaint against this decision, judges will set a hearing date for the case on [the lower court’s] procedures,” he said.

During the two-hour hearing yesterday, Choung Choungy, lawyer for the activists, said the 11 had no legal representation on July 21, 2015, when the lower court judge heard closing arguments from the prosecutor and announced the verdict.

However, Ly Chantola, a lawyer for the Daun Penh guards who are plaintiffs in the case, maintained there were no legal grounds for the defence lawyers’ request.

Choungy, for his part, argued that Chantola’s position “was just to hide the mistake made by the lower court’s judge”.

Chantola said the splitting of the case would only waste his clients’ time, to which Choungy shot back: “How can you say that your clients, who are not in jail, are wasting their time with this, when my clients have lost so much by being in jail?”

In an interview yesterday, Sam Sokong, another defence lawyer, said that on July 20, 2015, Phnom Penh court judge Lim Makaron had announced a hearing for the next day but the defence had requested a postponement. He added that they did not attend proceedings, unaware that the verdict would be announced the same day.

“However, this is a good sign that the judge has decided to split the case at the wish of the lawyers,” he added.

Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said it was an illegal procedure to not hear the defence lawyer’s closing arguments; however, there was nothing wrong with a judge announcing the verdict in the absence of a defence lawyer.

Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga and Chhay Channyda

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four