Cambodian human rights group renewed its call for the release of two men believed to have been framed for murdering a prominent labor leader and government critic
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 00:31:04 -0700 (PDT)
Cambodia: 1,700 Balloons Released Outside Prison
Foreign 2008-09-23 14:25
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: A leading Cambodian human rights group renewed
its call Tuesday (23 Sept) for the release of two men believed to have
been framed for murdering a prominent labor leader and government
The "gross injustice" against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun must end
because they are innocent, the Cambodian human rights group Licadho
said in a statement.
The men are serving 20-year prison terms for the 2004 killing of Chea
Vichea, the former head of Cambodia's Free Trade Union of Workers and
an outspoken critic of government corruption and human rights abuses.
Licadho and other rights groups say Cambodian authorities have made
the men scapegoats to conceal the real killer.
Dozens of people, including relatives of the murdered union leader and
the convicted men, staged a peaceful rally Tuesday near the Phnom Penh
prison where the pair is detained.
They released 1,700 white balloons symbolizing the number of days the
men have been imprisoned.
"They are not the killers of my brother," Chea Mony, the younger
brother of slain union leader Chea Vichea, said. "Please do not lose
your hope. There will be the day you will get the justice you have
long been denied."
Cambodian courts _ seen by critics as being corrupt and susceptible to
political influence _ have drawn heavy criticism at home and abroad
for their handling of the case.
Critics have said the courts have persistently ignored key evidence,
including witness testimonies that the two men were not at the crime
scene the day the killing took place.
"Every day longer that these two men remain in prison only imposes
greater suffering and hardship on them and their families, and draws
more attention to the appalling state of Cambodia's justice system,"
the group's director, Naly Pilorge, said in the statement Tuesday.
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun are awaiting a hearing at the country's
Supreme Court to appeal their conviction, Pilorge said. (AP)
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