Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RFA staff denied bail again

RFA staff denied bail again

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Jailed Radio Free Asia reporters sit among prisoners transported to the Supreme Court on Monday. Heng Chivoan

RFA staff denied bail again

The wife of one of two jailed Radio Free Asia staff members expressed “disappointment” after the Supreme Court on Monday rejected her husband and his co-defendant’s second bail request in a decision their families and lawyer claimed was “unfair”.

Oun Chhin, 49, and Yeang Sothearin, 35, have been imprisoned since last November on espionage charges.

After the ruling which was made less than an hour after the hearing, Chhin’s wife Heng Sina said outside the courtroom that the pair “had not done anything wrong”, but had already been detained for eight months despite the court not having any clear evidence to support the charges.

“I am really disappointed after hearing the court decide not to release my husband on bail. It is unfair on my husband because the court has already detained him for eight months, but no evidence has been [brought]."

“My husband is [our family’s] breadwinner, so since he has been detained, my family has met with difficulties,” she said.

Sothearin wife Lam Chantha also called the decision “unfair” and spoke of the hardships her family had encountered since her husband’s detention.

“The court continues to detain him, and that continues to affect my family’s living conditions as I have two small children. It is very unfair on my family,” she said.

The lawyer for Chhin and Yeang, Keo Vanny, told journalists at the court that he considered the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold an Appeal Court ruling as unfair.

This, he said is because his clients had already been detained for more than eight months without obtaining a trial date.

“The court has not shown any evidence. If they were released on bail [with their passports seized], what would be the problem? And there is no evidence supporting the [court] decision or the [espionage] claims. So it is really unfair to both my clients,” Vanny said.

He confirmed that they have a request filed with the Supreme Court for legal proceedings against them to be dropped, arguing that the authorities have held them illegally.

The request maintains that at the start of the case, they were detained without official permission from the court for longer than the 48 hours stipulated by law. And they are still waiting on a decision, he said.

Vanny said he would discuss with his clients whether to file a further bail request.

However, deputy general prosecutor Chhuon Chantha said he agreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“It is a [serious] felony case, so for a clear and thorough investigation, it requires the accused be detained. So the decisions of investigating judges at the Municipal Court and Appeal Court are correct. I support the decisions,” he said.

Vanny said he would file a request to speed up the investigation process so his clients could be sent to trial.

Chhin and Sothearin were arrested on November 14, last year on espionage charges. According to Article 445 of the Criminal Code, if they are found guilty, the pair faces between seven to 15 years in prison.

In March, an investigation was launched by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court into the pair producing pornography.

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in