Adhoc Officials Bid for Freedom

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Nay Vanda being taken into the courthouse yesterday. KT/Mai Vireak

The Appeal Court yesterday conducted a closed-door hearing on a lawsuit in which the lawyers of four imprisoned Adhoc officials requested to cancel the detention order the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) used to hold their clients beyond the duration of the law.
 
The Adhoc officials – Ny Sokha, Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan and Lim Mony – were questioned by the ACU on April 27 over a sex scandal involving the acting opposition leader Kem Sokha and his hairdresser Khom Chandaraty, after she wrote in an open letter that she was pushed to provide false testimony over leaked audio clips and their alleged affair.
 
The scandal escalated on May 2 when the four Adhoc officials were charged with bribing a witness.
 
After an hour of trial yesterday, presiding judge Ngoun Im said he would announce the verdict on Friday.
 
Defense lawyer Lor Chunty said the request to cancel the detention order was based on articles 96 and 117 of the procedural penal code and his lawyer team believed the ACU had detained their clients for more than 60 hours, exceeding the maximum 48 hours allowed by law.
 
“Our clients were detained at the ACU from April 27 to 30 but the ACU claimed they were officially detained on April 28 at 8pm…we would like the judge to consider this matter for our clients’ benefit,” he said.
 
Mr. Chunty said it would be extremely beneficial for his clients if the Appeal Court found the ACU was mistaken about the detention order.
 
Om Yentieng, president of the ACU, could not be reached yesterday. He previously told the media that the four Adhoc officials were detained because their answers linked them to evidence obtained by the ACU, including the confession of involved witnesses.
 
While being handcuffed before returning to detention yesterday, Mr. Vanda said: “It was unfair that Srey Mom [Ms. Chandaraty] told us at first that she had no relationship with Mr. Kem Sokha. This was a trick.”
 
Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator at human rights group Licadho, hopes the Appeal Court will provide justice for the Adhoc officials.
 
“If the judge bases on freedom and law, the court must consider whether the order was right or wrong. But if the decision is politically motivated, it will strongly affect them, who have been working as human rights activists for more than 20 years,” he said.
 
Ms. Chandaraty had sought assistance from NGOs after audio tapes of intimate conversations – allegedly between her and Mr. Sokha – were posted online. Initially, she denied the female voice on the tapes was hers, but later admitted it was and claimed that the NGO staff she had sought help from told her to lie to police questioning her about the tapes.
 
As a result, the four Adhoc officials were charged with bribery of a witness and one National Election Committee official was charged with conspiracy to bribe a witness.

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