The Supreme Court today upheld the two-and-a-half year prison sentence of former Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Um Sam An over Facebook posts suggesting that the government had ceded territory to Vietnam.
Presiding Judge Soeng Panhavuth found the Appeal Court’s decision in December to uphold Sam An’s “incitement” convictions was “in accordance with the law”.
“It is an injustice to me because I have done nothing wrong,” Sam An shouted to reporters outside the court as he was escorted to a van to take him back to Prey Sar prison, where he has already served more than two years.
Sam An was arrested in April 2016 for posts on Facebook accusing the Cambodian government of using incorrect border maps during negotiations with Vietnam. His parliamentary immunity was stripped on the grounds that he had been caught “in the act”, even though the posts were months old.
At the hearing today, lawyer Choung Choungy challenged the grounds for the charges and for the stripping of Sam An’s immunity. The arrest, he said, violated the Constitution.
"Where did he commit incitement? When? And who did he incite?" he asked the court.
Deputy prosecutor Chuon Chantha, however, dismissed Choungy’s argument, saying the lawyer had made the same case unsuccessfully before the municipal and appeal courts.
"What you said is the same as what you have already said," Chantha said.
Sam An’s fellow CNRP lawmaker Hong Sok Hour was also arrested in 2016 and sentenced over similar Facebook posts criticising the government’s handling of border negotiations. Sok Hour was the beneficiary of a royal pardon last October, raising speculation that Sam An’s release may also be imminent. That month, there were reports from anonymous sources close to the jailed former lawmaker that Sam An would write Prime Minister Hun Sen a letter of apology asking for his release.