By Noun Kim Sry and Bros Theuy
On August 2, 2005, we received a letter from the late King Norodom Sihanouk. He told us that our sons, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, did not murder Chea Vichea. He told us that he hoped one day the court would realize it had made a mistake and would release them.
We thought that this day had come when the Supreme Court announced that our sons would be released and the Appeal Court would investigate their case again. This was on December 31, 2008.
But almost four years later, on December 27, 2012, the Appeal Court sent our sons back to prison even though they didn’t have any new evidence against them. They will be re-tried by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Many people agree with the late King that our sons are innocent. In fact, no one believes they are guilty, even the police officer who led the first investigation said they were not the killers.
There is no real evidence against our sons and the newspaper seller who saw Chea Vichea’s murder said that they were not the killers she saw that day. There are eyewitnesses who can prove they were not even near the place where Chea Vichea was murdered—Born Samnang was in Prey Veng province and Sok Sam Oeun was staying with friends. Even the chief prosecutor said there was not enough evidence against them. So why are they still in prison? This we cannot understand.
When our sons were released in 2008, the U.N. and foreign embassies in Cambodia said their release was an important victory for human rights in Cambodia. Nobody can explain to us why they were arrested again in De*cember or what this meant for human rights in our country.
And we cannot explain this to Srey Thien, Sok Sam Oeun’s youngest daughter, when she asks why her father never comes home. We just hope and pray that he will be free to celebrate her third birthday with her in November. Sok Sam Oeun has two daughters, the oldest is now 16. Our sons were first arrested on January 28, 2004 and spent nearly five years in prison before they were released in 2008. When they go to the Supreme Court this week, they will have been in prison for 2,073 days for a crime they had nothing to do with.
Maybe you will be surprised that even now we still believe we can get justice. We have heard that after the elections there will be changes in our country, including in the courts. We believe that this could mean our sons will be released. Then we could start our lives again.
As we wait for the Supreme Court’s decision our sons continue to endure prison life. They are brave but their health is not good, they try to remain positive but prison leaves them with no energy.
For us, their mothers, we suffer. We are old and our health is poor. We cannot support our families and our situation weighs heavily upon us. All we ask for is justice—for our sons to be released, for their names to be cleared, for an end to this nightmare.
We ask the Supreme Court judges to overturn this injustice. We pray that Wednesday is the day that our late King once hoped for, when our sons will once again be free men.
Noun Kim Sry is the mother of Born Samnang and Bros Theuy the mother of Sok Sam Oeun.
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