11 August 2011

 

Re-trial gets under way -- almost

More than two and half years after Cambodia's Supreme Court ordered the provisional release of the two men convicted in the killing of Chea Vichea and instructed the Appeals Court to re-try them, the wheels of Cambodian justice started to turn, haltingly, this week.

The hearing was announced for Wednesday, The Cambodia Daily reported:
"This is yet another test case for the independence of the Cambodian judiciary," said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch. "If there is a shred of justice left in the country, they should be released unconditionally and compensation paid for their wrongful imprisonment."
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had served almost five years in prison when they were released on bail on January 1, 2009. The story of the police plot and judicial collusion that resulted in their conviction and imprisonment is told in the documentary Who Killed Chea Vichea?.

However the Phnom Penh Post reported today that on Wednesday the hearing was adjourned to an unspecified date so that Vichea's brother, Chea Mony, (curiously referred to as the plaintiff) could find a lawyer.

If the re-appeal ever does proceed, the court will be faced with a difficult choice: either re-convict two men who are obviously innocent, or openly admit that the government has never focused on finding the men who actually carried out the murder of Chea Vichea ... and those who ordered it.

Or will the courts find a third solution? That would require considerable creativity.

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