A Cambodian human rights worker held for over a year in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar Prison collapsed on Sunday in a prison restroom, with prison authorities later offering conflicting accounts of who had provided him with medical treatment.
Ny Sokha, one of a group of four ADHOC activists and an election official held in a case of alleged bribery widely seen as targeting Cambodia’s political opposition, was stricken with diarrhea on June 18 and was examined by doctors sent by the rights group Licadho, prison spokesperson Nuth Savana said.
He amended his statement next day, however, saying that Ny Sokha’s jailers had misinformed him, and that the detained rights worker had been seen instead by prison physicians.
Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service, Ny Sokha’s younger brother Ny Lyheng said on Monday that he visited Ny Sokha the day after his collapse, and that his brother’s face was pale and hands were shaking from the effect of serum injections given by his doctors.
“I met with him this morning,” Ny Lyheng told RFA. “He had passed out in the prison restroom for a while before being rescued by other inmates.”
Though Ny Sokha had been quickly attended to by prison physicians, Ny Lyheng said, he is concerned that his brother’s condition may be beyond the ability of the prison’s doctors to treat.
Ny Sokha’s lawyer Lor Chunthy meanwhile said that after seeing his client’s condition, his legal team will file a petition with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge handling the case to allow Ny Sokha to receive treatment outside the prison.
“We will have a meeting tomorrow, and after this we will file our petition [with the court],” Lor Chunthy told RFA.
'Part of a campaign'
Also speaking to RFA, Am Sam Ath, head of investigations for the Cambodian rights group Licadho, said that the judge handling Ny Sokha’s case has refused permission for Licadho doctors to examine the detained rights worker or other members of his group.
“We cannot provide a final diagnosis of his condition because Licadho’s physicians are not allowed access to him,” he said.
Already held at Prey Sar for 12 months for investigation of their case, the group now known as the ADHOC Five were told in March that their period of pre-trial detention would be extended for a further six months.
Rights group Human Rights Watch slammed the group’s continued detention, calling the court’s move “part of a campaign to destroy [Cambodia’s political opposition] and scare Cambodian rights workers into silence.”
The wife of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party member Chao Veasna, elected to a commune post in June 4 and detained in a separate case, meanwhile pleaded with authorities to provide her husband with competent care before returning him to prison from a hospital, where he is being treated for gallstones and liver disease.
“I want them to provide medical treatment for my husband so that he gets some relief before sending him back,” Chao Veasna’s wife Vong Kimhong said.
“But the prison department is too strict. I don’t know how to help him,” she said.
Reported by Vuthy Tha for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Written in English by Richard Finney.