The Appeal Court yesterday heard the case of Ny Chakrya, a former staffer with the rights group Adhoc, seeking to overturn a six-month prison sentence for defaming court officials.
Chakrya – now an official with the National Election Committee who has been imprisoned since April for a separate case relating to deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha’s purported sex scandal – was handed the sentence in September for criticism of the officials.
He had accused Siem Reap provincial deputy prosecutor Sok Keo Bandit and investigating judge Ki Rithy of corruptly colluding to arrest villagers in a land dispute, leading the pair to accuse him of defamation and attempting to pressure the judiciary.
Yesterday’s hearing took place behind closed doors, but Chakrya’s lawyers told reporters outside court that they had argued the conviction was based on too little evidence.
“The group of attorneys believes that the court will change, and will reject, the verdict from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and decide to free our clients,” one of the lawyers, Sam Sokong, said.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs were not present during the appeal, and En Yoeun, who represented them during the trial, said he was unaware that an appeal hearing had even been scheduled yesterday.
“I do not know whether they changed attorneys or not, so I ask not to give any comment.”
A verdict in the appeal is due later this month, and Chakrya, leaving court, declined to comment on what he believed his chances were of having the case overturned. “I do not evaluate this prosecution. Let the public do that, since the court will declare the verdict on the 14th of December at 2pm,” he said.