12 April 2007
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for human rights in Cambodia issued the following statement today:
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for human rights in Cambodia, Yash Gai, expresses deep regret over the decision by the Appeal Court on 12 April 2007 to uphold the conviction of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Ouen. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 1 August 2005 sentenced both men to 20 years of imprisonment for the murder of trade union leader Chea Vichea on 22 January 2004. The prosecution failed to present credible evidence linking the two men to the death of Chea Vichea. The trial was also conducted in violation of international human rights standards, including the impartiality of the court and the presumption of innocence.
The upholding of the conviction against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Ouen, despite fresh witness statements and other strong exculpatory evidence, along with the failure to observed minimum guarantees for fair trial throughout the process, is a grave injustice and underlines already existing concerns about judicial independence, the rule of law and continuing impunity in Cambodia.
The Special Representative reiterates his earlier calls for a thorough, impartial and credible investigation into the murder of Chea Vichea and for the prosecution of those responsible.