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NGO's on Two "Innocent" Men Jailed

Civil society officials appeal to the government authorities to re-open union leader Chea Vichea's murder case, re-examining two falsely accused jailed men, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun.

The officials push the Appeals Court to have a hearing again to bring justice to the two accused men and the victim.

Mr. Chea Vichea was President of Cambodia's Free Trade Union of Workers, and was gunned down in January 2004.

The civil society officials' appeals are made after former King Sihanouk's August 5 letter to the two wrongly accused men's families, convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal court last year of the murder.

In his letter, the former Monarch says that he strongly believes that the two men are innocent, and did not kill Mr. Chea Vichea, and that Prime Minister Hun Sen-led government will find justice for the two men.

Mr. Born Samnang and Mr. Sok Sam Oeun were sentenced to 20 years in prison each for the crime. It is believed that the investigation which led to the arrest of the two men was conducted under former police commissioner Heng Pov, wanted by the court for several crimes.

Executive Director of the Cambodian Defenders Porject and law Lecturer, Sok Sam Oeun says that in the past the case rested with Mr. Heng Pov who is being suspected of being a criminal.

The two accused men's lawyer, Mr. Chum Sovandaly, says that his clients are innocent. Prime Minister Hun Sen's adviser, Om Yentieng says that the case is in the court's hands and that the government has no power in the decision.

The Ministry of Interior's spokesman, General Khieu Sopheak declines comments on former King Sihanouk's letter, saying the ministry still considers the case to be justified, and that the allegations concerning Mr. Heng Pov's involvement are just suspiscions. Phnom Penh court's president, Mr. Chiv Keng declines comment saying he is busy