The Supreme Court yesterday conducted a hearing on the bail requests of four Adhoc officials and one National Election Committee (NEC) official who have been in prison since last April.
The Adhoc officials – Lim Mony, Yi Soksan, Nai Vongda and Ny Sokha – and NEC deputy secretary-general Ny Chakrya, are being detained in Prey Sar prison and PJ Prison after being charged with bribing a witness and conspiracy to bribe a witness.
The rights group workers and the NEC official face up to 10 years behind bars if found guilty.
The five were accused of bribing then-acting opposition leader Kem Sokha’s alleged mistress Khom Chandaraty, who claimed during a police interrogation that Adhoc paid her off and asked her to lie about her involvement with the CNRP leader.
In court yesterday, Adhoc’s Mr. Sokha said the prosecutor claimed the investigation had not finished as a reason to detain them further.
He added that it was inaccurate to say their release would cause insecurity, that they would flee the country or would not cooperate with the court.
“We already knew before the day of our arrest, which the prime minister had mentioned. We knew we would be arrested, but we cooperated with authorities in every phase, even the Anti-Corruption Unit,” he said.
“We will not escape, we want justice. If we escape, how can we find justice?
“Our actions confirm that we have no intention of escaping.”
He said their detention was unfair and their situation should be not be turned into a political game.
“I hope the Supreme Court will find justice for us. Too much has been done to us. We just worked on human rights to help the government, but we got imprisoned instead,” he said.
Mr. Soksan said the court has detained them for more than 10 months over leaked audio files, which have yet to prove their guilt.
“We are really suffering when they think we’re joking. Why don’t they investigate the recently leaked recording?” he asked, alluding to a recent leak involving the prime minister and the CNRP’s Mr. Sokha.
“We weren’t involved in this case,” he said, urging the court to make a fair judgment.
On October 27, investigating judge Theam Chan Piseth ruled that the five should remain in detention for another six months despite having already served six months in temporary detention, citing the ongoing nature of investigations into their alleged bribery.
Supreme Court prosecutor Chan Dara Rasmey concluded yesterday by asking the court to uphold the verdict of the Appeal Court.
He said the court had no intention to violate anyone’s freedom. He acknowledged the difficulties of the accused, but said he worked in accordance to the law.
“The court implements the law, so judge please consider,” he said.
Seoung Sen Karona, a human rights monitor and investigator for Adhoc, said he hoped the Supreme Court would decide in their favor and release them on bail.
“We appreciate their willingness to join the procedures of this case in a desire to see a change in the Cambodian judicial system by providing them justice,” he said.
“Is their detention intended to strengthen the rule of law or a deliberate threat to all human rights defenders in Cambodia?”
On Sunday, 78 civil society organizations mostly based in Asia condemned the continued arbitrary detention of the five and called for an immediate end to ongoing judicial harassment and violence against human rights defenders in Cambodia.
Supreme Court presiding judge Soeung Panhavuth said the court will announce its decision on Monday.
Source: Khmer Times