Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rights groups call for release of ‘scapegoats’



Rights groups call for release of ‘scapegoats’

Born Samnang cries as he is escorted out of the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh last year
Born Samnang cries as he is escorted out of the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh last year. SRENG MENG SRUN

Rights groups call for release of ‘scapegoats’

Rights groups and the United Nations yesterday urged the Supreme Court to drop the case against two men widely believed to have been wrongfully convicted of the slaying of unionist Chea Vichea when it convenes this morning.

Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were re-arrested in December of last year after spending nearly four years out of prison on provisional release after the Appeal Court issued a shock verdict finding the pair guilty of the 2004 murder.

“Prosecutors have long conceded that there was no basis for convicting the two men prosecuted for Chea Vichea’s murder, yet the government has persisted in this miscarriage of justice,” Brad Adams, Asia director of the US-based Human Rights Watch, said.

“The Supreme Court now has the opportunity to render a measure of justice for the wrongfully convicted Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun.”

The men were implicated shortly after the outspoken unionist was gunned down in daylight in January 2004.

Though there was ample evidence to suggest the pair had been framed – a fact later admitted by former municipal police chief Heng Pov – they received 20 years in 2005.

After almost five years in prison, Samnang and Sam Oeun were provisionally released in January 2009 by the Supreme Court, which ordered a re-investigation. But, after years of the case bouncing between the upper and lower courts, when the Appeal Court re-tried the pair in December 2012, it found them guilty and remanded them to custody.

Amnesty International yesterday characterised the original trial as “grossly unfair” and urged “both men to be released immediately and unconditionally”, while the UN OHCHR and International Labour Organization highlighted a “lack of sufficient evidence to prove guilt”.

Neang Khen, the wife of Sam Oeun, said she and her two-year-old daughter had struggled with poverty since her husband’s re-arrest.

“Everyone including the King knows that my husband and Born Samnang are artificial murderers, so please may the court tomorrow release them,” Khen said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year