Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Phone bill too steep for freedom

Phone bill too steep for freedom

Phone bill too steep for freedom

B ATTAMBANG - An eight month-pregnant woman has been in Battambang provincial

prison - without sentence - for not paying an international telephone

bill.

Chan Navy, 40, said she had been in jail for three months, unable

to contact her daughter living with relatives in Phnom Penh, who did not know

she was in prison.

Navy appeared tired, weak and sad earlier this week.

She said she could not stand up much because she was so heavily

pregnant.

She said she was detained after borrowing her sister-in-law's

telephone to call a relative in New Zealand three times. She paid only for the

first call. Her sister-in-law complained to provincial authorities and Navy was

arrested and imprisoned.

Prison chief Danh Chhoeng said he wanted to free

Navy. "I have submitted to the judge for her to be released but he did not

agree. This women is pitiable. She has to give birth this month and I don't want

her to have her baby here," he said.

Navy's defender, Chim Dara from the

Cambodian Defenders Project, said his client's unpaid phone bills added up to

$110.

He said Navy rang her relative to ask for money and had been

promised $1000. She planned to reimburse her sister-in-law for the calls from

that.

Dara alleged that the sister-in-law's husband worked in the local

court, and knew the judge handling the case.

As the Post went to press,

Dara said he had made an arrangement to post a $200 "bail" to have her

freed.

He did not know when she would be released, but expected it to be

within a day or two.

"If we didn't have any money, the judge would not

let her out of custody," he said. "This woman would be jailed until they thought

she [had served time] equal to the value of the money owed."

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