Activist Denied Bail, Calls for Security Camera Footage to Be Released

Source: VOA Cambodia

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Ms. Tep Vanny, Beung Kok land rights activist, is escorted by police officers at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, on Thursday, November 17, 2016. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

A court in Phnom Penh on Thursday held a hearing in the case against Tep Vanny, a prominent housing activist from the Boeung Kak Lake area. The court denied her request for bail.

An activist who was detained on violence charges for taking part in a protest outside the residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen has called for security camera footage of the incident to be released.

A court in Phnom Penh on Thursday held a hearing in the case against Tep Vanny, a prominent housing activist from the Boeung Kak Lake area. The court denied her request for bail.

The incident was alleged to have taken place in March 2013.

Touch Thavarith, Appeals Court spokesman, said Judge Nguon Ratana had refused the bail request on the grounds that her release could endanger public security.

“If she was granted bail, she would violate the law and commit crimes again,” he said. “The investigation is not complete yet.”

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Ms. Tep Vanny, Beung Kok land rights activist, is escorted by police officers at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, on Thursday, November 17, 2016. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

As she was leaving the courtroom, Vanny, visibly upset, said she was not a criminal and had no hope after being denied bail.

She said if the security camera footage of the alleged incident was released it would prove her innocence.

“Those culprits who committed real crimes are still living freely outside jail,” he said. “They are people in positions of authority.”

“They violate the citizens’ land rights and make them suffer.”

Thavarith declined to comment further on the verdict or the possibility that security camera footage could be released.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator at Licadho, a local rights group, said Vanny had been targeted because she was a popular land rights activist who challenged the authority’s narrative.

“She will be released when the political situation has improved,” he said.

Along with Vanny, on August 22, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced fellow activist Bov Sophea to six days in jail and a fine for taking part in a banned demonstration.

However, while Sophea was released, Vanny was held because over two separate cases, the violence case and another related to alleged insults levied at officials.

Human Rights Watch, among dozens of other rights groups, has called on the court to drop all charges against Vanny and other activists they say have been jailed on spurious charges.

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