Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Verdict due today for Kbal Thnal six

Verdict due today for Kbal Thnal six

Riot police and CNRP supporters clash on the Kbal Thnal overpass in Phnom Penh
Riot police and CNRP supporters clash on the Kbal Thnal overpass in Phnom Penh in September. Pha Lina

Verdict due today for Kbal Thnal six

A Phnom Penh municipal judge is expected to announce a verdict this morning for six people arrested in connection with a September clash at the Kbal Thnal overpass, a week after the verdict was originally expected.

Authorities took the six men into custody at the overpass on the night of September 15, when a mixture of commuters and demonstrators participating in a three-day Cambodia National Rescue Party protest allegedly threw rocks and damaged property at a roadblock set up there. Police responded by opening fire on the crowd, killing one and injuring dozens.

“Based on total lack of evidence and inability of any police witnesses to identify six [defendants], we hope the court will drop the charges and release the six … and not sway according to political pressure,” Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said in a text message yesterday.

Licadho is one of two groups providing legal representation for the defendants.

Prosecutors called about 30 witnesses – all police – to the stand during the trial last week. None could identify any of the six defendants, nor did any know which police department made the arrests.

All defendants deny charges against them, with more than one accusing police of torturing them during interrogations.

Nguyen Thydoc, the only defendant who has not received bail, said in court last week that his confession was false, and that he only admitted to throwing rocks after police repeatedly shocked him with electric batons.

If convicted of intentional violence and damage to public property, defendants face sentences ranging from two to five years and fines of up to 10 million riel ($2,500).

Postponement of the verdict last week did not come as a shock, said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

“I’m not surprised, because I think [the verdict is] going to be decided by the ruling party.”

But Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said government officials have no say in court decisions.

“The judge has a [jurisdiction],” Siphan said. “It’s his or her own judgement.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the