The Kandal Provincial Court released a former Licadho staffer from prison yesterday after he had fully served his fiercely contested two-year sentence, court officials said.
According to General Prosecutor Ouk Kimseth, Leang Sokchoeun, 30, a former messenger for Licadho, was released from Kandal Prison yesterday morning after serving two years on charges of disinformation and incitement to commit crimes – charges brought in trials that Licadho said offered no witness testimony and no credible evidence.
“There was no real proof to show that he had committed the crime,” said Harm Sunrith, his defence lawyer.
According to Harm Sunrith, Leang Sokchoeun’s arrest for distributing purportedly inflammatory leaflets in Takeo province was predicated on information provided by Thach Vannak, one of three men from Kampuchea Krom who were also arrested on the same charge.
Leang Sokchoeun, who went through a lengthy appeals process, said that prison was a nightmare.
“I lived in a small cell, and it was crowded with prisoners.”
Consequences extended beyond the walls of prison.
“My arrest and my jailing seriously affected my honour,” he said. “It also separated me from my family, it made me lose my job, lose my studies, and other opportunities.”
He said that he would return to school next month. Dr Pung Chhiv Kek, Licadho’s president, said his old job will be waiting in Phnom Penh.
“Although Leang Sokchoeun has been convicted by court, and was jailed for the period of two years in prison, we still consider him to be an innocent person, and a good person,” she said.
After his ordeal, Leang Sokchoeun called on Hun Sen to take measures to improve Cambodia’s judiciary.
“To prevent other innocent people from being wrongfully arrested or wrongfully convicted like me, I would like to appeal to Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to strictly control and reform judicial systems in Cambodia.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]