The Court of Appeal upheld a verdict on Wednesday in one of two cases against senior election official Ny Chakrya, and the opposition party urged patience for a political deal it suggested was forthcoming.
Mr. Chakrya, deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee, had received a six-month prison sentence for defaming a prosecutor and judge at the Siem Reap Provincial Court after they imprisoned two farmers, in a trial criticized by the American Bar Association for failing to meet international standards.
Senior election official Ny Chakrya enters the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily) Presiding Judge Plang Samnang, declining to give a reason for the decision, said “the Court of Appeal has decided to uphold the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.”
The former head of rights group Adhoc, Mr. Chakrya was chosen for the election commission on hopes that he would bring neutrality to the board. He is also enmeshed in a separate bribery case alongside four of his former colleagues involving giving $204 to an alleged mistress of CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha.
Long Ry, a CNRP lawmaker who accompanied Mr. Sokha to visit Mr. Chakrya in prison on Tuesday, suggested that the cases might be resolved outside the legal system.
“Please be patient,” Mr. Ry said after the visit, adding that Mr. Sokha “will work to find all means to have a better situation going forward and to find a resolution.”
King Norodom Sihamoni pardoned Mr. Sokha earlier this month for failing to appear in court in a case regarding the alleged mistress, while CNRP commune chief Seang Chet, who had been facing bribery charges, was released last week.
Kem Monovithya, the CNRP’s deputy director of public affairs, tweeted last week that the jailed group would be freed by the end of the month, while CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang said they would be released after their trials concluded.
Court spokesman Y Rin said on Wednesday that the bribery case against Mr. Chakrya had been sent to prosecutors to make closing orders and move the case—which has languished in the investigation phase for months—to trial.
Mr. Chakrya’s lawyer Sam Sokong invited a political solution to his client’s legal woes.
“If politicians want to come up with a resolution, they will create a solution for both cases,” he said outside the court on Wednesday.
Mr. Sokong said he was unsure whether his client would appeal the court’s verdict to the Supreme Court, but believed Wednesday’s trial was unfair.
“There was not enough evidence filed in this case and the evidence that was filed was not enough to inculpate Ny Chakrya,” Mr. Sokong said.
That sentiment was echoed by Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch.
“The Court of Appeal’s denial of Ny Chakrya’s appeal had all the markings of a rubber stamp ruling, with no reasoning included in the denial that took just a few minutes to issue even before the accused reached court,” he wrote in an email.
Twenty-six civil society organizations also released a joint statement on Wednesday condemning the decision “in the strongest terms.”
narim@cambodiadaily.com
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