Conviction upheld for former CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Um Sam An is escorted away from court by authorities. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the 30-month prison sentence against former opposition lawmaker Um Sam An for incitement over Facebook posts he made criticising the government’s demarcation of the border with Vietnam.

Mr Sam An, an American and Cambodian citizen, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in October last year for Facebook posts in which he accused the government of ceding territory to Vietnam by using improperly demarcated maps at a time of heightened political sensitivity surrounding border issues.

Presiding judge Soeng Panhavuth said the Supreme Court agreed with the Appeal Court’s verdict not to overturn the ruling against the former CNRP lawmaker.

“The Supreme Court denies the appeal and upholds the Appeal Court’s verdict,” Mr Panhavuth said.

During the hearing, Mr Sam An said he was a lawmaker with the right to express his opinions and should not have been labelled a criminal for doing so.

“Police also arrested me before the National Assembly lifted my immunity,” he added. “My arrest was illegal, so please, judges, release me from prison.”

Mr Sam An was arrested in April after returning to Cambodia from the United States, where he had sought evidence that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government was using the wrong maps to demarcate the border with Vietnam, ceding Cambodian territory in the process.

Choung Choungy, Mr Sam An’s lawyer, said his client still had the right to another appeal to the Supreme Court, but he could not say if they would file the paperwork.

“It depends on whether he believes in the court or not,” he said. “If he does not believe in the court, he will not file another appeal.”

After the verdict, Mr Sam An expressed his dissatisfaction to reporters while being escorted by prison guards into a truck.

“The verdict is very unjust because I did not commit the crime like the court says,” he said. “We knew already that the Supreme Court would uphold the convictions handed down by the municipal court and upheld by the Appeal Court. I do not believe the courts can deliver true justice.”

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