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Sok Hour defence balks at evidence demands

Senator Hong Sok Hour is escorted through the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in handcuffs after he was arrested by authorities at a CNRP lawmaker house in the capital’s Sen Sok district in August.
Senator Hong Sok Hour is escorted through the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in handcuffs after he was arrested by authorities at a CNRP lawmaker house in the capital’s Sen Sok district in August. Heng Chivoan

Sok Hour defence balks at evidence demands

A lawyer for imprisoned opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour will argue before the Appeal Court on Monday that his client should be released on bail rather than see his team forced to submit further evidence to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s ongoing trial.

Choung Choungy, an opposition party lawyer, applied on November 17 for an Appeal Court hearing in response to an order by Phnom Penh Municipal Court presiding judge Ros Piseth that demanded Sok Hour’s defence submit the Sam Rainsy Party senator’s laptop and other “relevant documents” to the court.

Piseth adjourned the trial on October 7 after prosecutor Sieng Sok asked for the collection of more evidence.

Choungy said he was informed yesterday that an Appeal Court hearing will now take place on Monday at 8am.

He said he would argue that granting Sok Hour bail would allow him to gather and submit the relevant evidence himself.

“Sok Hour would be able to hand in more evidence if he was on bail,” Choungy said. “He has started his research since 2006 and has used a few different computers, meaning many of the files are saved separately.”

Sok Hour faces up to 17 years in prison on charges of forging a public document, using a forged public document and incitement to cause serious unrest, after he posted a “fake” section of a 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam border treaty.

The imprisoned senator, arrested on August 15 and already denied bail multiple times, claimed in an October 7 hearing that he found the disputed treaty on a website online and did not forge the document.

His defence team planned to back this up by showing the court that the treaty had been hosted online long before Sok Hour presented it on Facebook but were unable to use a computer inside the court to access the internet.

On October 22, Piseth wrote to the defence and demanded they hand over the senator’s laptop, saying that if they didn’t by October 30, the court would not accept any further relevant evidence.

Yesterday, Sok Hour’s wife, Kun Lum Ang, said her husband was still to have medical problems while in Prey Sar prison, including hypertension.

“My husband lost 5 kilograms after three months in jail; he needs proper treatment,” she said.

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