Appeal Court to hear RFA duo’s case

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Yeang Sothearin and Uon Chhin meet their families upon their release on bail. KT/Mai Vireak

The Court of Appeal has fixed Friday to hear an application by two former Radio Free Asia journalists for it to annul a decision to put them under court supervision while they are out on bail.

A letter from the court obtained yesterday said that its investigating chamber will hear the appeals of Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin on June 21.

In August, Phnom Penh Municipal Court granted bail to the two who were jailed in November 2017 on espionage charges. But they are under court supervision, meaning they cannot leave the country and have to show up every month at a police station.

Mr Chhin and Mr Sothearin worked for RFA’s Khmer-language service until the US-funded media outlet shut its Phnom Penh bureau on September 12, 2017, citing government repression and the forced closure of its FM radio broadcasts.

Both were arrested in Phnom Penh’s Marady Hotel in November and were accused of sending intelligence reports to the United States, an allegation they deny.

Sam Chamroeun, their lawyer, yesterday said that he hoped the investigating chamber of the Appeal Court will annul the restrictions against them so that they can secure work to support their families.

“I will try my best to defend them and provide strong evidence for the court to consider our demand because we have enough reasons but I can’t detail them,” he said, noting that he had filed an appeal to annul their court supervision in March.

“While my clients remain under court supervision it affects their daily livelihoods,” Mr Chamroeun added.

Mr Sothearin yesterday said that he will attend the hearing and ask court officials to return his belongings which were confiscated by police officers after his arrest.

“It is difficult for us when we remain under court supervision and I have to show up at a police station once a month,” he said. “Sometimes when I go there I am not able to see the officer who is in charge of my case so I have to go back again, which is a waste of time.”

“Because of the supervision order, I cannot go overseas to join a short training course to improve my knowledge,” Mr Sothearin noted. “I also can’t visit my Kampuchea Krom parents who are in Vietnam and they can’t come to visit me because they are very old.”

“I hope the Court of Appeal will provide justice to us and annul the court supervision order and return equipment seized from us,” he added.

Mr Chhin yesterday echoed Mr Sothearin’s sentiments and hoped the court will return cameras and other studio equipment which were confiscated so that he can run a business to support his family.

“I hope that the court will give back my equipment so that I can work to support my family as I am now jobless,” he said.

Mr Chhin noted that equipment confiscated from him included video cameras and computers which he could use to run a photo studio or produce documentaries.

“Now I don’t have any money to buy new equipment and do not have a job to support my family,” he added.

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