Cambodian Supreme Court will review trade union leader’s murder
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2008 09:43:32 -0800 (PST)
23 December 2008
Two men convicted of the murder of trade union activist Chea Vichea in
Cambodia after a seriously flawed criminal investigation and a grossly
unfair trial will have their case heard by the country's Supreme Court
on 31 December.
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were sentenced to 20 years for Chea
Vichea’s murder. However, their detention and trial were plagued with
human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment and
deeply flawed court proceedings that relied on unfounded and
"The Cambodian Supreme Court must dismiss the case against both men
and ensure that they are released." said Amnesty International's
Cambodia researcher Brittis Edman.
The organisation has long argued that the true perpetrators of the
murder remain at large. The Free Trade Union (FTU), of which Chea
Vichea was President, has also repeatedly called for the release of
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun.
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had alibis for the time of the shooting
on 22 January 2004. Instead of conducting a thorough, impartial
investigation, police officers threatened and detained people who
would provide these alibis, and intimidated other witnesses.
Born Samnang repeatedly stated that police beat, coerced and bribed
him into making a confession. Despite this, the Municipal Court
accepted the confession as a central piece of evidence on the basis of
which both men were convicted.
On 1 August 2005, the Municipal Court sentenced them both to 20 years’
imprisonment for murder. On 6 April 2007, the Appeal Court upheld the
decision, despite the prosecutor’s acknowledgment there was
Amnesty International has repeated its calls to the Cambodian
authorities to conduct an impartial and effective investigation into
the murder of Chea Vichea so that those responsible for it are brought
The organisation has also urged the authorities to initiate a
thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the conduct of
the case - including allegations of torture or other ill-treatment by
police during the initial interrogation of the two men, intimidation
of witnesses and political interference with the judicial process.
Chea Vichea was murdered on 22 January 2004 after receiving a series
of death threats. He was shot dead in an assassination-style killing
at a news stand in central Phnom Penh. Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun
were arrested shortly afterwards on suspicion of his murder.
Since Chea Vichea’s death another two FTU activists have been killed
in Phnom Penh. In May 2004, Ros Sovannareth, FTU President at the
Trinunggal Komara factory, was murdered. Thach Saveth was sentenced to
15 years in prison for his murder in a one-hour trial described by
observers as grossly unfair.
On 24 February 2007, Hy Vuthy, FTU President at the Suntex factory,
was shot dead. No one has been brought to justice for this killing,
and by September 2008, a Phnom Penh court official told media that the
investigation had been closed for lack of evidence.
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