G AVIN Scott's Khmer defender has had no legal training and has only defended "a
couple of petty theft" charges in two years, but has promised his office will do
it's best for the British doctor.
When asked if it would be a difficult
case to win, Oum Samuel, the administration director of the Charto defenders
group, said: "Yes, very difficult."
He said there were ten other
defenders in the Charto office who could help him with the case. "All of us here
will do everything in the interests of Doctor Scott".
Samuel had defended
"a couple of cases" during his two years with Charto, "petty thefts... but no
reporter followed those cases. It was very easy to get them off."
had, at press time, filed a bail application for Scott, adding that his verbal
application for Scott's immediate release had been refused by investigating
judge Ya Sokhan.
Samuel, 29, said he nominated himself as Scott's
guarantor for bail after the British Embassy declined for diplomatic
Scott, sent to T3 prison on June 23 on charges of raping boys,
had previously been refused a Khmer defender from a number of
The Cambodia Defenders Association (CADEAS) had said its
defenders were not proficient enough in English. The Cambodia Defenders Project
(CDP) was conflicted because its previous interim director had earlier given
legal advise to Licardho - one of the NGOs which laid the complaint against
Both Charto and Licardho receive funds from the Asia
Samuel said he had been interested in Scott's case soon after
the doctor's arrest but had gathered from Khmer newspapers that Scott already
had a defender.
Independent English lawyer Robert Carlin - who, as a
foreigner, cannot by law represent Scott without a Khmer defender- rang Charto
"a couple of weeks ago" asking for a defender, Samuel said.
that, simultaneously, Asia Foundation chief Jim Klein had been talking to
Charto's program director asking that they should take Scott's case "but by the
time my program director told me (that) I had already picked up the
"I'm pleased to pick it up... (we) had been trying for a while,"
Samuel, whose job included assigning cases to defenders in the
Charto office, said he decided to take the case himself, acknowledging it was a
"To put it simply, most (of the Charto) defenders
don't speak English well," said Samuel, who was educated in the United States
and who had worked for UNTAC and previously with UNBRO in the border
"The reason is simply language. I can communicate with (Scott),"
Judge Ya Sokhan "appointed" Samuel by ordering that all requests
from Carlin to Scott, for instance asking for permission to visit prison, be
directed through Samuel, he said.
Samuel said he had visited Scott twice
in T3. "I don't know him that well, I'm trying to get to know him
"I talked to him mostly to get answers, whether he committed the
crime. I just asked him to be honest, and he says he did not commit the
He said T3 was "not a comfortable place... not pleasant," but
said Scott seemed strong and was looking forward to returning to his medical
practice in town. "He knows someone is representing him now". The Post was
refused permission to visit Scott.
Asked how he would counter possible
criticisms about his inexperience, Samuel said there were not enough lawyers in
Cambodia, and fewer still wanting to take on a non-profitable criminal case. "We
will do our best for him," he said.
Samuel said he would be working in
collaboration with Carlin. "I may be more inexperienced than him but I know the
Cambodian side... He will be next to me in court."
indicated that Carlin might be too "pushy" for the Cambodian legal system,
something "I will have to talk to him about".
"I personally feel that
internationally (Carlin) is very good, and he is doing things in the best
interests of Doctor Scott... but in a way I feel he is a little
"There are certain areas like (the Cambodian legal) system,
operating that way and he can't change them overnight. I'm not talking against
him, he's good, he's experienced," Samuel said.
When asked whether Ya
Sokhan also considered Carlin "too pushy", Samuel said: "From my point that I
have seen looking at the judge's character, yes. The judge has not said anything
to me, but yes." Samuel said Scott would get a fair trial. However, he also said
he felt pressure from "VIPs, I don't know who..." both for and against
Samuel said that he had interviewed two of the victim witnesses,
one of whom he said had been an employee fired by Scott who later broke into
Scott's house and stole a walkie-talkie.
Carlin, meanwhile, visited Scott
in prison for the first time, with Samuel, on July 25.
He said Scott was
defiant, and was ready to fight the charges.