Cambodian Court Denies Bail to Opposition Lawmaker

cambodia-um-sam-an-arrest-apr11-2016.jpg Cambodian opposition lawmaker Um Sam An (C) is escorted by police officials at the Ministry of the Interior in Phnom Penh, April 11, 2016.

A Cambodian court on Friday denied bail to opposition lawmaker Um Sam An but did not provide an adequate reason for its decision, the politician’s lawyer said.

Judge Top Chhun Heng of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied the lawmaker’s request for bail and said it was best to keep him locked up, attorney Choung Chou Ngy told RFA’s Khmer Service

“I received the denial,” he said. “I think it is inappropriate. I will appeal the case in an appeals court.”

On April 12, the court officially charged Um Sam An of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) with two criminal offenses over his accusations that the government conceded land to Vietnam along its border.

The court placed him in pretrial lockup in the country’s notorious Prey Sar prison for incitement to commit a felony and incitement to cause discrimination.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who critics say routinely uses such tactics against the political opposition, said Um Sam An’s arrest is lawful and justifiable, according to Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.

“The lawmaker’s attempt to raise the issue about the border was to incite and provoke conflict with a neighboring county and to topple the prime minister,” Hun Sen said at a recent council meeting.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Um Sam An is a victim of politics played by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

“We all know that this is a politically motivated case,” he said. “We must resolve this issue through political means.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday lashed out against Um Sam An, calling him a troublemaker over border issues and accusing him of trying to incite conflict between Cambodia and Vietnam in an attempt to unseat him.

Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for more than 30 years.

The charges arose from Um Sam An’s accusations that the CPP had failed to stop land encroachment by Vietnam and used improper maps to demarcate the border between the two former colonies of France.

He faces up to five years in prison under the two incitement charges, the first of which carries a penalty of six months to two years in jail plus a fine. The second charge is punishable by one to three years in jail and a fine of 2 million-6 million riel (U.S. $500-U.S. $1,500), Chhoung Chou Ngy said.

Reported by Khe Sonorng for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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