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

  • Call for boycott of Angkor unacceptable

    Dear Editor, I wish to express my strong disagreement on the article published by Traveller for their website with the title Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid. Below is my opinion of the article. It is obviously free for the Traveller to

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • Gov’t slams UN rapporteurs over Sokha trial statement

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN Office in Geneva deplored the statement of three UN special rapporteurs who claimed that Kem Sokha’s trial was “tainted” due to irregularities. The reaction

  • No power shortages next dry season, says energy minister

    Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem has assured the public that Cambodia will not suffer power shortages during the next dry season. Speaking on local TV on Tuesday, Sem projected a rise in power demand during 2020’s dry season – which starts in November and

  • Gov’t takes steps to lower logistics, transport costs

    With the threat of losing trade privileges in the EU drawing closer, the government is taking measures to reduce logistics and transportation costs to safeguard the Kingdom’s competitiveness. The EU is due to decide whether or not to withdraw the Kingdom’s trade privileges