Top court dismisses appeal by RFA pair

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
File photo of Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin in July 2018. KT/Mai Vireak

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a bid by two former Radio Free Asia reporters to have their initial detention deemed illegal due to it exceeding the 48-hour threshold.

The former RFA reporters, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, were arrested in November and held in pre-trial detention until their release on bail last month.

The pair was attempting to convince the court that judicial police broke the law when they initially detained them, arguing that they were held for more than 48 hours.

Presiding Judge Kong Srim rejected the argument, noting that it was unfounded.

“The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to make a decision and does not accept the appeal filed,” he said.

Mr Sothearin said that he was disappointed with the verdict.

“It is the court’s discretion but for me, I am not satisfied because our lawyer has enough documents and evidence,” Mr Sothearin said. “I think it is not difficult to prove because our lawyer has calculated the hours of our detention. It was more than 48 hours.”

“After 48 hours, there was no letter issued by the prosecutor to continue our detention,” he added. “We are not satisfied as we have enough evidence, but we still lost.”

Mr Sothearin said he will now consult with his lawyer and continue fighting to clear his name.

“I will still demand that the court drop the charges,” he 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.

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

The pair had in April also attempted to have their detention deemed illegal, a bid that was shot down by the Court of Appeal, which noted that Mr Chhin was detained for 42 hours and 35 minutes and Mr Sothearin for 42 hours and five minutes.

Mr Chhin could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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