RFA reporters’ porn charges may be dropped

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The journalists. KT/Mai Vireak

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge yesterday informed two former Radio Free Asia reporters that they were not being detained on production of pornography charges, which were laid atop initial espionage charges.

Former reporters Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were jailed last year after being arrested in Phnom Penh’s Marady Hotel on November 14 and accused of espionage for sending reports to the United States.

In March, the court also charged them with the production of pornography and yesterday they were summoned to answer questions over the new charges.

However, court spokesman Suos Vithyearandy said after the questioning that Investigating Judge Pech Vicheathor informed the two men that they were no longer being detained on the pornography charges, leading their lawyer to say that the charges should be immediately dropped.

“The Investigating Judge did not decide to detain them, but they were detained over the espionage charges,” Mr Vithyearandy said.

Keo Vanny, defence lawyer for the men, said that the judge’s comment means that the pornography charges should be dropped.

“I think that this charge is not appropriate,” Mr Vanny said. “I will file a complaint to drop these charges against my clients.”

On May 20, the municipal court extended the pre-trial detention of the two journalists by another six months to continue investigations over the espionage charges.

Article 208 of the Procedure of the Criminal Code states that for an adult involved in a felony, provisional detention may not exceed six months; however, when this period ends, the investigating judge may extend the detention for another six months with a proper and express statement of reasons.

Both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have denied bail requests by the men, as well as an attempt at freedom on grounds that procedures by judicial police were wrongly conducted.

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