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Man slams his conviction for Cambodian labor leader's murder as unjust

Man slams his conviction for Cambodian labor leader's murder as unjust

Two Cambodian men who say they were wrongly convicted last year of killing a prominent labor leader returned to court Friday, with one denouncing the country's justice system as "stupid and merciless."
The appearance in the Appeals Court of Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang came just days after new testimony was released that, if true, would appear to show them innocent of the 2004 shooting death of Chea Vichea, who headed Cambodia's Free Trade Union of Workers.
Va Sothy, the former owner of a newsstand where Chea Vichea was killed, this past week released a statement saying she had seen a different man _ not Born Samnang or Sok Sam Oeun _ shoot the union activist.
She has fled Cambodia, saying she feared for her life, and has sought the U.N.'s help in settling in a third country.
The slain man was an outspoken critic of government corruption and human rights abuses.
Cambodian and international human rights groups have campaigned for the two convicted men's freedom, saying Cambodian authorities have made them scapegoats to conceal the real motive and killer.
"The courts in Cambodia are totally stupid and merciless," Sok Sam Oeun shouted angrily after his brief appearance at Friday's scheduled appeals hearing.
He maintained his innocence in the case, for which he and Born Samnang are serving 20-year prison sentences.
Judge Saly Theara adjourned the hearing just five minutes after it began because one of the judges on the case's panel was absent due to illness. Saly Theara did not set a new hearing date.
Speaking to reporters before a police van took the convicted men back to their cells, the convicted men appealed to Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni to help secure their release.
Cambodia's judicial system is widely regarded as corrupt and susceptible to political influence.


Updated : 2021-04-18 22:24 GMT+08:00