Among the 50 prisoners who were pardoned or received sentence reductions for the Water Festival this year, several were convicted of serious crimes, such as rape, murder and human trafficking, according to a review of the roster included in the most recent Royal Book.
Two of the prisoners were pardoned, with the rest receiving sentence reductions of six months to a year.
The prisoner with the longest sentence, Lang Kamsort, was sentenced to 25 years for illegal gun possession, attempted murder and premeditated murder, and saw his sentence reduced by one year. Eleven other prisoners receiving reductions were convicted of murder.
One of two prisoners receiving a pardon is United Kingdom national Michael Glyn Jones, 54, who has been in jail since June 2014 and was convicted of child prostitution and sexually assaulting children aged 6 to 11. He was sentenced to eight years, then had his sentence reduced to five, and has now been released.
According to his lawyer, he left the country late last week.
Koem Vanndo, program director of child protection NGO APLE, said he couldn’t comment on the individual case, but said that “crimes against children have life-long impact on their physical and mental development”, and should be “heavily punished”.
Another prominent prisoner, a former prosecutor from Pursat, Chan Sereyvuth, received a one-year reduction to his sentence on corruption, extortion and false imprisonment charges.
Chhin Malin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, said that clemencies depended on a change in the inmate’s character and individual assessments of their crimes. “They met all the conditions of the evaluation,” he said.
Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski