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Supreme Court rejects RFA pair’s complaint

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
A former Radio Free Asia journalist, Yeang Sothearin speaking to reporters outside Supreme Court this morning. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Supreme Court today rejected an appeal to nullify the detention of two former Radio Free Asia reporters who were charged with espionage for allegedly sending reports to the United States.

Two former RFA reporters, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, filed an appeal to annul their detention because they said the procedure by the judicial police was wrong.

The hearing was conducted on September 12.

Mr Chhin and Mr Sothearin were released on bail under court supervision in August.

Supreme Court presiding judge Kong Srim said that the request for annulment made by the lawyer of Mr Chhin and Mr Sothearin was incorrect and noted that the decision by the Investigation Chamber was not subjected to an appeal and the request was unfounded.

“The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to make a decision and does not accept an appeal filed by lawyer Keo Vanny,” Judge Srim said. He declined to comment further.

Mr Sothearin said that he was not satisfied with the court’s decision.

“It is the court’s discretion but for me as plaintiff, I am not satisfied with that because our lawyer has enough documents and evidence,” Mr Sothearin said after leaving the courtroom this morning.

“I think it is not difficult to have judgement because our lawyer has calculated hours of our detention. It is more than 48 hours,” he said.

“Our lawyer has enough documents to prove to the court and police showed they have applied wrong procedure. After 48 hours of detention, there is no letter issued by a prosecutor to continue the detention,” Mr Sothearin said.

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 last year, citing government repression and the forced closure of its FM radio broadcasts.

The two men were charged with article 445 of the Criminal Code which covers providing information to foreign states or agents which can “undermine national defence.”

In May, Phnom Penh Municipal Court extended the pre-trial detention of the two men for six months for investigations to continue.

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