27 December 2012
Innocent men re-convicted!
Earlier today in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian Appeals Court upheld the convictions of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun and returned them to prison where they face an additional 15 years to complete their 20-year sentences.
Originally convicted soon after the assassination of labor leader Chea Vichea in 2004, the two men served nearly five years of their sentences before their provisional release was ordered by the Supreme Court on 31 January 2008.
Who Killed Chea Vichea? was released in 2011 and broadcast on US public television that year. Based on over five years of research, investigation and filming, it demonstrates conclusively that neither man was guilty of the crime. Furthermore it implicates members of the security forces and exposes a coordinated plot by the police and courts to frame Samnang and Sam Oeun. The film is banned in Cambodia.
"It's an absolute disgrace," said Bradley Cox, the director of Who Killed Chea Vichea?. "The incarceration of activist Mom Sonando, the killing of environmentalist Chut Wutty, the re-imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun… When will our diplomats pull their thumbs out and do their jobs? They call themselves champions of human rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law and yet they consistently look the other way when they're needed most.
"Shame on the Cambodian government for this travesty of justice and shame on us for allowing it to happen over and over and over again."
"No one can seriously believe they're guilty," said Rich Garella, producer of Who Killed Chea Vichea?. "There hasn't been a shred of evidence presented against them. This re-conviction is heartbreaking, despicable, disgusting.
"In ordering the re-imprisonment of these two men, Hun Sen is being very purposeful. He is showing that he can do anything in Cambodia. He is showing diplomats, opposition politicians and the public in general that he can and will imprison even unimportant regular people. It's not just the influential who must fear him. It's everybody. Hun Sen is being quite open about his position as dictator. He is a dictator by any reasonable definition."
Loud Mouth Films is the production company for Who Killed Chea Vichea?, co-produced by the Independent Television Service with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The film is available in English, French, Spanish and Khmer at www.whokilledcheavichea.com/order.html and by download at www.whokilledcheavichea.com/seeit.html. The Khmer-only version can be seen online at www.vicheamovie.com and is free for distribution within Cambodia.
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