Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawmaker’s bail denied to prevent ‘social unrest’

Lawmaker’s bail denied to prevent ‘social unrest’

Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An is escorted into the Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An is escorted into the Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh yesterday. Hong Menea

Lawmaker’s bail denied to prevent ‘social unrest’

The Appeal Court yesterday ruled that CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An must stay in custody on the grounds that he is a threat to social stability and may meddle in the case against him.

Sam An was arrested on April 11 for past criticisms of the government’s border policy after returning from an extended trip to the US, where he is also a citizen.

Sam An’s lawyers yesterday appealed the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to deny their client bail. The appeal chamber was in session for about two hours before upholding the previous ruling.

Outside the court, Sam An’s lawyers vowed to launch another appeal in the Supreme Court ahead of a scheduled hearing on May 25.

Prior to yesterday’s hearing, the parliamentarian declared his incarceration “unconstitutional” as he was led past reporters in hand-cuffs.

“The person who protects the territory is in prison, and the person who caused the loss of territory becomes a patriot,” he said.

Lawyer Choung Choungy said the judge had cited the potential for “social unrest” if Sam An were released, and also suggested the parliamentarian might attempt to influence the case.

Chairman of the appeal panel Phou Sao Sun said an ongoing probe meant the lawmaker should remain in custody.

“If we let him out on bail, it will impede the investigation,” Sao Sun said.

Sam An is charged with incitement offences for alleging in a Facebook post that Cambodian authorities had ceded land to Vietnam by using improper maps to demarcate the border.

The sensitive issue flared into a political storm last year, and also saw opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour arrested for a border-related Facebook post in August.

Both Sam An and Sok Hour enjoy parliamentary immunity under the constitution, which their lawyers, and party, say has been violated.

The authorities, however, have broadly interpreted a clause that allows them to arrest lawmakers caught in the act – or in flagrante delicto – to justify the arrests, which have been widely slammed as politically motivated.

Sok Hour’s trial, meanwhile, has stalled midway to allow prosecutors time to dig-up more evidence.

Choungy, who also acts for the senator, said a Supreme Court hearing was scheduled for June 8 to contest the lower court’s handling of the case.

However, he said, the men’s freedom was ultimately dependent on a political resolution.

Yesterday, rights group Licadho launched a webpage to highlight the growing number of political prisoners in Cambodia, which currently stands at 29 individuals, they said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Companies listed on CSX receive 50% deduction on income tax

    Tax incentives are granted to companies that have listed their shares or issued debt securities on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), whether they are small to medium-sized enterprises or large companies. The nine stock listed companies on the CSX – with seven listed on the Main

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Cambodia mourns over UK’s Queen Elizabeth II

    Cambodia has joined other nations around the world to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, with King Norodom Sihanomi, Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly president Heng Samrin extending their condolences in separate letters. In his letter to the late Queen’s son –

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Railway project studies proceed

    The transport ministry is exploring options to expedite preliminary studies on key public railway infrastructure projects, especially the conversion of the Northern Railway Line that links to Thailand into high-speed rail. Railway freight and passenger transportation has been pinpointed as a major potential engine of