Home > Local News, Politic, Sam Rainsy > High court hears Rainsy case

High court hears Rainsy case

The Supreme Court today heard an appeal in the case against
opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two Svay Rieng villagers, convicted
last year of uprooting demarcation posts on the border with Vietnam.
Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy speaks to reporters in Phnom Penh in March 2009. Photo by: Sovan Philong
The
charges stemmed from an October 2009 incident in which the Sam Rainsy
Party president led villagers in uprooting six wooden stakes that were
being used to demarcate the border between Vietnam and Chantrea
district in Svay Rieng province.
In January last year, Phnom Penh
Municipal Court sentenced Sam Rainsy to two years’ jail in connection
with the case, while the villagers were jailed for one year each,
before being released in October.
During the three-hour-long
hearing, a court clerk read out a statement from Sam Rainsy, who
defended his decision to uproot the posts.
“The border issue is a
political issue, it is not a penal issue,” his statement said,
adding that the authorities had proven unresponsive to local concerns
about the loss of land to Vietnam.
“As a people’s representative, I have the right to help people to resolve national problems,” he added.
“I would like to request the Supreme Court to judge justly, so that I can be acquitted.”
The
two villagers – Prum Chea and Meas Srey – also demanded that judges
erase their initial conviction, arguing that they could not afford to
pay the court-ordered fines handed down in 2010.
The three
accused were ordered to pay a combined total of 55 million riels
(US$13,253) in compensation for the removal of the border markers.
Chan
Sok Yeang, a lawyer representing the government, dismissed the claims
of Sam Rainsy that the case was motivated by politics.
“The accused Sam Rainsy is a politician; he attached this issue to the political issue,” he said.
“The
government is engaged with the Thais on the Preah Vihear temple issue
but he raised about the east border, saying that [Vietnam] has taken
all the land. He said it in a crowd of people. Isn’t it incitement?”
Chan Sok Yeang also said that until the demarcation process was complete, land titles could not be granted to local residents.
Speaking
outside the court, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer Choung Choungy claimed judges
did not allow him a chance to rebut the claims of the government lawyer.
He
said his client was motivated purely by a desire to solve problems that
local officials had been unwilling or unable to solve themselves.
“Saying
that the government thinks of the western border but does not think of
the eastern border does not mean that it is incitement,” he told
reporters.
“It is not incitement, but it is just a reminder to defend out territory.”
Sam
Rainsy, who is living in self-exile abroad, was also convicted in a
separate case of disinformation and falsifying maps in his campaign to
expose alleged Vietnamese border encroachments and sentenced to 10
years jail.
Choung Choungy said the Supreme Court will hand down its verdict on Tuesday.
Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News, Politic, Sam Rainsy
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