The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a bail application for Poipet Commune Chief Chao Veasna, who has been in pretrial detention since February for his alleged role in a protest that turned violent outside the border town’s customs office in 2015.
Veasna has said he was only observing the 2015 protests, which were organised by transportation workers over border fees. The demonstration escalated when protesters began throwing bricks at the customs office and burning car tyres, with Military Police beating protesters and firing warning shots.
However, Veasna was only arrested in February – more than 18 months after the fact but just over three months prior to the commune elections.
Yesterday, Supreme Court Presiding Judge Khem Pun rejected Veasna’s request without giving a reason for the decision. Veasna has requested bail on health reasons, citing a gallstone, hyper-acidity and calcium deficiency.
“[A]fter listening to the conclusions of the defendant’s lawyer and the conclusions of the prosecutor, the court decided to uphold the Appeal Court’s judgment,” Pun said.
Veasna was not present in court, but his lawyer, Choung Choungy, reiterated that his client was only observing the protest in his capacity as a local official.