Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence given former opposition lawmaker Um Sam An. Two low level courts had penalized him for Facebook posts criticizing the government’s demarcation of the border with Vietnam.
The presiding judge, Soeng Panhavuth, said that the Supreme Court deemed the appellate court’s verdict correct. Additionally he maintained that the Supreme Court need not justify the decision as the appeal court had already done this, and the Supreme Court concurred. “The Supreme Court decided against the complaint and upholds the appeal court’s verdict.
After the Supreme Court announced the verdict, Mr Sam An said, while being escorted from the courtroom to the paddy wagon, “It [the verdict] is very unjust because I did not commit the crime the court charged me with. We knew the result beforehand – that the Supreme Court would uphold the appeal court’s and the Phnom Penh Municipal court’s verdicts.”
Mr Sam An said “”I don’t trust the court.”
At the hearing he explained that his arrest (upon returning from the US in April) was illegal because the National Assembly had not yet suspended his immunity. To this Chhuon Chantha, the court’s deputy prosecutor general , countered with, “The appeal court’s verdict [Dec.23, 2016] is correct, so the judge may please uphold the verdict.”