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Sovannara not allowed to travel

Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party activist Meach Sovannara is escorted into the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh last week ahead of his hearing.
Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party activist Meach Sovannara is escorted into the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh last week ahead of his hearing. Heng Chivoan

Sovannara not allowed to travel

The Supreme Court opted to uphold a lower court’s verdict yesterday, ruling that Meach Sovannara, the jailed information chief of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, cannot leave Cambodia to seek medical treatment.

Sovannara, who holds Cambodian and US citizenship, was sued for his participation in a 2014 demonstration at Freedom Park where security forces and demonstrators clashed.

On July 20, 2015, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced him to 20 years in prison for “leading an insurrection”. He had appealed to the Supreme Court to allow him to travel abroad for a medical check-up for injuries sustained in a car accident last year.

But Kim Sathavy, the presiding judge, refused the request, saying that the lower court’s decision to ensure that Sovannara remains in Cambodia was the correct one.

After the verdict, Sovannara’s attorney, Chuong Choungy, said he recognised that the Supreme Court’s decision is final, but said he will discuss ways to file a further complaint with his client.

Sovannara was jailed at a time of heightened tensions between the ruling and opposition parties in a case widely considered to be politically motivated.

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