Cambodia’s Supreme Court denies bail for activist Theary Seng

Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court’s decision to deny bail to Cambodian American Theary Seng, who is serving a six-year sentence for conspiracy to plot against the government. 

The lawyer and activist was sentenced on June 14 along with 50 other activists for their association with the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party, once the main opposition in the country before it was dissolved by the Supreme Court in 2017. 

The Supreme Court said Theary Seng was a flight risk and a threat to the country’s social fabric in its decision to uphold the appeals court decision to reject a motion to release her on bail.

Theary Seng’s lawyer Choung Chou Ngy told RFA’s Khmer Service that the decision was unjust. His client never avoided a trial before her arrest and has made it clear that she has no intention to leave Cambodia, he said.

He also disputed the court’s contention that Theary Seng presented some risk to society.  

“It isn’t right to cite social security as a reason to deny her release,” Choung Chou Ngy said.  “This means the court assumes that upon her release, she would cause social disorder. This is a guilty presumption, so I as a lawyer can’t accept it.” 

He said the court has no right to continue to detain Theary Seng because he filed an appeal for her, he said.

“Even though the court convicted her to six years in jail, the verdict is not completed yet because of an appeal,” Choung Chou Ngy said.

He plans to travel to remote Preah Vihear prison, where Theary Seng is being held, to brief her about the verdict and discuss further legal options.

Theary Seng did not commit any crime, she simply exercised her freedom, Ros Sotha, executive director of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee.

“If the government doesn’t open up to accept democratic culture, it will be difficult to lead a country,” he said, adding that Theary Seng’s conviction was for expressing her views against Cambodia’s authorities.

Earlier this month, the New York-based Clooney Foundation for Justice called Theary Seng’s June 14 trial “a travesty of justice” and gave it a grade of F, calling for her immediate release.

Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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