Bail Request Denied for Land Activist

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Activist Tep Vanny being led away from the court after being sentenced. KT/Mai Vireak

The Appeal Court yesterday dismissed a bail request for Tep Vanny, the prominent Boeung Kak land activist charged with intentional violence related to a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in 2013, a case reactivated after she was arrested during a Black Monday protest in August.
Ms. Vanny has been incarcerated in Prey Sar prison’s CC2 building, a complex for women and children, since August 17. She was arrested two days earlier during the Black Monday gathering – a protest against a government crackdown on opposition activists and civil society officials – and was swiftly tried and convicted of “insulting a public official.”
While only sentenced to six days in prison and fined about $20 in that case, Ms. Vanny was also convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in September and sentenced to six months in jail along with three other Boeung Kak land activists for insulting and obstructing a public official during a protest in November 2011.
Ms. Vanny remains in pretrial detention and faces charges of intentional violence relating to the protest in front of Mr. Hun Sen’s house in 2013.
Presiding judge Nguon Ratana yesterday conducted a closed-door hearing in the presence of Ms. Vanny without her lawyers. Touch Thavarith, an Appeal Court spokesman, said the dismissal of Ms. Vanny’s request for bail was to ensure social stability and the efficiency of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s investigation.
“Ms. Vanny was questioned alone without her lawyers and that’s okay. Her defense lawyers can appeal against this decision at an appropriate time,” Mr. Thavarith said.
Defense lawyers Sam Sokunthear and Hom Sunrith could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Am Sam Ath, a technical coordinator for human rights group Licadho, said it was a threatening sign to Ms. Vanny and her fellow land activists.
“Vanny is seen as a threat to the government because she is very active in protesting and demanding justice, so her arrest was to threaten her and other protesters,” he said.
Song Sreyleap, a representative for Boeung Kak land activists, said in relation to the clash back in 2013, she and other land activists who had gone to the prime minister’s house were beaten by authorities but no action was taken.
“The police hit us on the head and even broke one land activist’s hand, but changed the story that we beat them. This is very unfair.
“I hope the prime minister will allow us to use the camera in front of his house and see what really happened at that time,” she said.

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Tep Vanny in handcuffs trying to talk to the media. Supplied

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