Press Release3 years of injustice for Born Samnang & Sok Sam Oeun
Cambodia Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)
January 28, 2007 - On the three-year anniversary of the arrests of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, Cambodian NGOs and trade unions are today launching a continuous public campaign for their release from prison.
“The injustice suffered by these two men has gone on far too long. The courts must set them free, so that they can return to their families and their normal lives,” said Thun Saray, President of ADHOC.
Despite extensive evidence of their innocence, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun are serving 20-year prison sentences for the murder of prominent trade unionist Chea Vichea. Many individuals - including former King Norodom Sihanouk, Chea Vichea’s family and the main eyewitness to the murder - have declared that they are innocent. The two men have been waiting for 18 months for the Court of Appeal to review their case.
The campaign is being launched today with the erecting of signboards outside NGO and union offices in Phnom Penh, featuring photos of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun under the slogan “They Need Justice”. The signboards will be updated daily to show the total number of days that the two men have been imprisoned. The campaign will also include regular newspaper advertisements similar to the signboards.
“We are publicly counting the days that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun are in prison, just like they must be counting every single day of their unjust imprisonment,” said Kek Galabru, President of LICADHO. “Our campaign will continue until the day justice is delivered to them and they are released.”
“Every day longer that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun remain in prison imposes greater suffering and hardship on them and their families,” added Kek Galabru.
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun have been in prison since their arrests three years ago on January 28, 2004 - a total of 1,096 days. They were convicted of Chea Vichea’s murder in a much-criticized trial by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on August 1, 2005 and have been waiting since then for the Court of Appeal to hear their appeals against the convictions. An appeal hearing set for October 6, 2006 was cancelled at the last minute because one of the judges was sick.
“We urge the Court of Appeal to urgently set a new hearing date as soon as possible, and to carefully consider all the available evidence in this case,” said Kong Pisey, Acting Director of CDP. “We believe that an impartial examination of all the facts will lead to the release of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun.”
“The longer that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun spend in prison, the more damage that is done to the reputation of the Cambodian justice system,” said Thun Saray of ADHOC. “The Court of Appeal has an opportunity to put an end to this, and to finally deliver justice to these two men and their families.”
Note: The campaign for justice for Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun will be launched today, Sunday, January 28, at 9am with the erecting of a signboard at LICADHO’s offices (# 16, St 99, Boeung Trabek). Media are invited to attend.
For more information, please contact:
• Mr. Thun Saray, Chairman of CHRAC and President of ADHOC, 016 880 509
• Dr. Kek Galabru, President of LICADHO, 012 802 506
• Mr. Kong Pisey, Acting Director of CDP, 012 945 725