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Wednesday, September 12, 2012Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Trial begins for alleged 'secessionist' Mam Sonando - Page 2

Supporters of jailed Beehive Radio director Mam Sonando rally outside Phnom Penh Municipal court yesterday. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Phnom Penh Post

“The children were being squeezed,” Sochua said after the scene had quieted, explaining her repeated exhortations to police to “put the shields down”.

Vich Kim Chhon, 73, one of only seven witnesses out of a total of 86 scheduled to testify on the defendants’ behalf told the Post that he had travelled from Kratie’s Kampong Brama village to testify because he “never saw Mam Sonando go to Kratie province”.
“I can say that he doesn’t know anything about the plan to establish an autonomous area,” he said.
Sreng Pho, wife of defendant Kan Sovan, said that her husband had been taken away by police as he was bringing his daughter to the hospital to deliver her baby.

“Because I want my husband and Mam Sonando to get justice, I borrowed 100,000 riel from my neighbour to travel to Phnom Penh,” she said, tears streaming down her face.
Though reporters were barred from the majority of the proceedings, some representatives from civil society groups, foreign embassies and the national assembly were allowed to observe.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay, who attended part of the hearing yesterday morning, said that the trial was riddled with irregularities.
“[One] defendant could not read or write,” said Chhay, detailing police malfeasance that had come to light in court. “They made him thumbprint two or three pages [of affidavit], but only read him one or two lines, with no lawyer present.
“Even the prosecution is involved in cheating and creating fake documents, and that is quite usual,” he added.

When asked if the prosecution had brought any physical evidence, Chhay replied: “Absolutely not.”
“They only brought some traditional archery [equipment], and some picks,” he said, laughing off the government’s claim that the Pro Ma villagers had planned an armed insurrection. “They were totally unusable, these so-called weapons.”
Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak also attended the morning session of the trial, and echoed Chhay’s sentiments.
“The three witnesses appeared to be contradicting the original statements by the investigating judges and the police,” he said, corroborating the assessment that the witnesses had been made to sign statements that they hadn’t read.
“Their answers haven’t seemed to point to Mam Sonando’s involvement in anything.”
However, Virak said, Sonando’s alleged accomplices that accepted Prime Minister Hun Sen’s June offer of immunity in exchange for their testimony had yet to take the stand.
Sok Sam Oeun, head of the Cambodian Defenders Project and Sonando’s attorney, said the court’s handling of the case so far had been “okay”, but corroborated that defendants had denied using the bows and arrows, knives and hoes, brought by the prosecution, to start a rebellion.
“They testified that these were normal instruments for farming, and they were there before” the forced eviction in May, he said.
A monk from Kratie, Venerable Kao Sovann Theoun, was arrested around 9:30am near the pagoda flanking the demonstration and taken to Makara district for his suspected involvement in the protest, CCHR reported.
A witness later said he was released shortly after, when it was discovered he had nothing to do with the demonstration.



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