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Adhoc five freed

May Titthara / Khmer Times Share:
The Adhoc five have been released after more than one year of pre-trial detention. KT/May Titthara

The Adhoc five have been released from prison on bail following more than one year in pre-trial detention on bribery charges.
Adhoc officials Nai Vongda, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Lim Mony and National Election Committee official Ny Chakrya, who was formerly with Adhoc, had been jailed since April last year.
Their detention attracted widespread criticism from international rights groups and foreign governments.
They were released yesterday evening under court supervision after the investigating judge wound up a second investigation into the case.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Theam Chan Piseth said they must not move house or travel abroad without court permission, and must check in with officials until the case is closed completely.
Mr Soksan told reporters outside the court he was overjoyed at his release.
“The court decision has provided justice for us. Now I can go back to my work helping people,” he said.
He added their release is a promising sign for democracy in the country. “I think the government and courts want to reform the judicial system,” he said.
Mr Chakrya said he didn’t know he was about to be released but was asked to put his thumbprint on a letter.
“During my year in prison, the thing I missed most was losing my right to vote as a Cambodian citizen,” he said.
The five were accused of bribing a witness and conspiracy to bribe witnesses in relation to an alleged affair between opposition leader Kem Sokha and his hairdresser Khom Chandaraty.
Adhoc always denied the bribery accusations, insisting the money given to Ms Chandaraty was a stipend the group provided to individuals they were assisting.
The group had their pre-trial detention extended twice, during which time several members became sick.
The European Union and the US State Department condemned the extended detention of the Adhoc Five, saying the delays were unreasonable and breached their rights.
Human Rights Watch also repeatedly called for the immediate release of the five, insisting the charges were politically motivated.
However, the government said the issue was “absolutely the domestic affairs of Cambodia”.
It said the foreign powers clearly violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by commenting on the matter, which stipulates all diplomatic missions have a duty to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state and not to interfere in the internal affairs of the state.

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