Hun Sen's gift for Assistant US Secretary of State Christopher Hill on the inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy
- From: "Chim" <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: 17 Jan 2006 03:03:05 -0800
Cambodia's leader to ask court to release government critics on bail
By SOPHENG CHEANG
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Prime Minister Hun Sen will ask a Cambodian
court to release on bail several jailed critics of his government, an
official said Tuesday, as fears grow that the country is becoming a
Om Yentieng, an adviser to Hun Sen, told reporters that the prime
minister "is aware of all the concerns, and today (Tuesday) will write
a letter (to the court) asking for those who have been temporarily
detained to be released on bail."
He said Hun Sen made the promise during a meeting with visiting
Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill.
Hun Sen's announcement appears to respond to mounting criticism and
pressure from home and from abroad over criminal defamation actions
taken by his government.
Critics, including the United States, have condemned the arrests as
part of a government campaign to neutralize opponents. Many fear
Cambodia is gradually sinking into authoritarian rule under Hun Sen.
The imprisoned critics are radio journalist Mom Sonando, union leader
Rong Chhun, and rights activists Kem Sokha and Pa Nguon Tieng, both of
the U.S.-funded Cambodian Center for Human Rights.
Hun Sen has sued them and several others, who have fled the country to
avoid arrest, for criticizing him on a border demarcation pact he
signed with neighboring Vietnam in October.
Hill did not speak to reporters after Tuesday's meeting with Hun Sen.
The prime minister's adviser, Om Yentieng, quoted Hun Sen as saying
he'd made the bail decision as "a gift for Mr. Christopher Hill on the
inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy" on Tuesday.
"He (Hun Sen) is doing this in his heart as a Cambodian helping other
Cambodians" like himself, the adviser said.
However, Om Yentieng said that bail being sought does not mean that the
defamation charges will be dropped.
"They will have to show up at court the day their trials begin," he
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