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Supreme Court dismisses RFA duo’s appeal against reinvestigation

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Uon Chhin, left, and Yeang Sothearin, right, talk to reporters yesterday after their appeal was denied by the Supreme Court. KT/Siv Channa

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the appeal of two former Radio Free Asia journalists who requested to drop the reinvestigation into their espionage and pornography cases, nearly three years after they were charged.

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Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were, in 2017, charged by the lower court with “producing pornography” under Articles 38 and 39 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation and “supplying a foreign state with information prejudicial to national defence” under Article 445 of the Criminal Code.

During yesterday’s verdict, Supreme Court Presiding Judge Kim Sovathy said: “Based on the hearing and after the judges’ council properly inspected the related documents and considered the rulings made by the lower courts, the Supreme Court deems the verdict of the Appeal Court dated January 28, 2020, was right and followed the law.”

“Therefore, the Supreme Court decides to uphold the ruling and close the accused’s appeal,” she added.

Speaking to Khmer Times outside the courthouse yesterday, Chhin, refusing to accept the Supreme Court’s ruling, said: “The reinvestigation has led to further delays on my case. It has affected my freedom [of movement], as well as my work.”

Sar Chamroeun, the defendants’ lawyers, said the dismissal of the appeal shows that the court has no intention to end the persecution of his clients. He called on the court to put an end to the reinvestigation, saying the prior investigation by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s investigating judge, which had already concluded, was enough.

Chhin and Sothearin were arrested in November 2017 and charged with espionage and production of pornography, allegations they both denied.

The pair were released on bail and placed under court supervision in August 2018, after spending nine months in pretrial detention in the capital’s Prey Sar prison.

On October 3 last year, the Municipal Court ruled to open a reinvestigation on  Chhin and Sothearin’s charges following hearings conducted in July and August but the duo contested the decision and appealed against it.

The Appeal Court rejected their requests on January 28 this year.

Chhin and Sothearin are expected to stand trial in the following months.

 

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