Cambodia’s high court rejects opposition official’s conviction appeal

Thach Setha’s arrest was seen as part of a campaign of intimidation and threats against activists.
By RFA Khmer
Cambodia’s high court rejects opposition official’s conviction appeal Thach Setha, the Candlelight Party’s vice president, appears in Cambodia’s Supreme Court in Phnom Penh, Dec. 15, 2023.
(Provided by Thach Setha’s family)

Cambodia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Candlelight Party Vice President Thach Setha on Friday, a decision that means he’ll serve the remainder of his 18-month sentence on a bad check conviction.

Thach Setha, 70, is also serving a three-year sentence he received in October after his conviction on two separate charges of incitement. That case stemmed from a comment he made in January about the history of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

The unrelated September conviction on a false check charge has been deemed politically motivated by human rights groups and party officials. 

Officials from the European Union, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, and human rights NGO Licadho were in the courtroom for Friday’s verdict.

His wife, Thach Sokborany, was also present and spoke with emotion to reporters afterward about his serious heart condition. 

“My husband said his health is not good because the doctor asked him to have a checkup every six months,” she said. “But the court did not release him.”

She called on the government to ease the country’s tense political climate by releasing her husband and other prisoners of conscience – a suggestion made previously by human rights activists.

Thach Setha’s arrest in January was seen as part of a months-long campaign of intimidation and threats against opposition leaders and activists ahead of July’s general election. 

His lawyer, Son Chum Choun, told RFA on Friday that he believes Thach Setha’s health issues and the lack of evidence in the original trial should have been enough for Supreme Court Presiding Judge Nil Nonn to order a release.

“If we study [the case], he did not act as alleged,” Son Chum Choun said, referring to Thach Setha. “If we study the case deeper, I think this is something to consider whether this is unfair to him or not?”

Translated by Yun Samean for RFA Khmer. Edited by Matt Reed and Roseanne Gerin.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.