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Group Blasts Judge for Light Sentence in Battery Case

A rights group Wednesday lambasted a Phnom Penh municipal judge for handing a light sentence to a high-ranking military official in a battery case.

Col. Chhor Dara was found guilty of beating a woman, but the judgment of a suspended sentence with time served was too light, said Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho.

"We appeal to the prosecutor…to file a protest so the Appeals Court can prosecute fairly and properly," she said. "This is all I ask. I don't want to have bad karma [by demanding a heavier sentence]. This is not a personal grudge, but it is about justice in society. We want the people in Cambodia to have due process under the law. For those who have high-ranking positions and those who have top officials backing them, they should receive due process under the law. Poor people and wealthy people should be equal [before the law]."

Cambodia's courts are notoriously corrupt and widely believed under the control of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The judiciary's poor reputation has not improved, despite the establishment of a $56 million genocide tribunal last year.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Chief Judge Uk Savuth declined comment.