Friday, January 2, 2009

Scapegoats released!

December 31st, the Supreme Court of Cambodia ruled the case of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun to be further investigated and up for a retrial at the Appeal Court. Until then the two men, who have been in prison for nearly five years, will be released. Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were sentenced to 20 years in prison in August 2005 for the murder of trade union activist Chea Vichea in January 2004. Both men had ailibi for the time of the shooting, and their detention and the trial have been highly critized both internationally and by local organizations.

The Phnom Penh Post reports that local human rights activists are surprised and very happy about the outcome of the December 31st trial, but that many of them don't believe in the independence of the Cambodian judiciary. Sara Colm of Human Rights Watch told the Post that "Looking back later, we would hope that this is when the Cambodian judiciary turned the corner.... But we can't say this solves the problem. One case doesn't make or break a long pattern of deeply entrenched impunity".

Earlier blogposts about the case: Amnesty International: Supreme Court must deliver justice, Controversial case to be heard by the Supreme Court, Release scapegoats!

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