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Verdict for Areng activist still stands

Areng activist Ven Vorn (right) is led into Koh Kong Provincial Court in February after he was charged with forest crimes in October. Licadho
Areng activist Ven Vorn (right) is led into Koh Kong Provincial Court in February after he was charged with forest crimes in October. Licadho

Verdict for Areng activist still stands

The Appeal Court yesterday upheld a one-year sentence for Areng activist Ven Vorn, who was convicted in March by the Koh Kong Provincial Court for his alleged involvement in “forest crimes” and released on a suspended sentence.

Vorn was accused by Koh Kong’s Forestry Administration of harvesting forest products without authorisation and for tampering with evidence after he purchased purportedly illegal timber to build a community centre, though the second charge was ultimately dropped for lack of proof.

Having spent three months in pre-trial detention, the provincial judge suspended the seven months remaining on his sentence.

While Vorn was not present at court yesterday, judge Kim Dany announced a brief verdict denying the activist’s appeal, but giving no reasons for his ruling.

Vorn’s attorney, Chan Socheat, said that the Forestry Administration officials were not present during the September 9 trial, denying him the opportunity to cross-examine them. He said he has yet to ask Vorn if he intended to file a further appeal. “I have not discussed with my client yet . . . but if he wants to file it, it is up to him”.

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