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Only seven slated for Water Festival pardons

Pardoned prisoners prepare to be released from Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison early last year.
Pardoned prisoners prepare to be released from Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison early last year. Vireak Mai

Only seven slated for Water Festival pardons

Just seven people have been recommended for pardons by a government committee that yesterday finished assessing some 560 applications for early release ahead of November’s Water Festival, a dramatic reduction from the 106 to receive clemency last year.

But with many high-profile inmates currently being held in the Kingdom’s prisons, officials yesterday declined to offer details on who made the list.

Pardons and reduced sentencing committee spokesperson Kim Santepheap yesterday refused to say whether inmate Seng Chenda, convicted of the attempted murder of Transport Minister Sun Chanthol’s wife and daughter in 2011, was among the seven after having been recommended for a pardon by National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

When asked about opposition party prisoners, he stressed that those selected for potential release were not assessed on their political tendencies. “I want to inform that in each verdict, there is no information related to the political tendency of the inmates as the law must be implemented for everyone who violates the law,” Santepheap said in a message late yesterday. “Among all the inmates, I don’t know whose party they belong to.”

The committee revealed it would also recommend 88 people receive a reduced sentence. Of those, 17 people will be eligible for a year’s reduction on their sentence. Eighteen people could see their jail time reduced by nine months, and 46 could see a six-month reprieve.

Am Sam Ath, technical adviser for Licadho, noted that the relatively small number of pardon cases meant that “irregularities” in the pardons process may also be on the decline.

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