PHNOM PENH —
The Court of Appeals on Friday morning rejected requests for release from four jailed rights workers who have been charged with bribery in connection with a sex scandal that has plagued the deputy leader of the opposition.
The staffers from local rights group Adhoc – Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda and Lim Mony – were detained in late April and questioned over allegations that they attempted to pay the woman at the heart of the sex scandal, Khom Chandaraty, to withhold evidence.
Lawyers for the defendants argued that the Anti-Corruption Unit had held them illegally during questioning.
Huon Chundy, one of the lawyers, said police had neglected to time the questioning session and it had run longer than the legal 48 hours.
“Their detention did not comply with the law therefore it should be annulled due to non-compliance,” he said, adding that his clients were detained for more than a week.
Touch Thaovarith, a court spokesman, said the arguments of the lawyers were “unacceptable” and the court had referred the case back to the Municipal Court. He did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor at local rights group Licadho, said the behavior of the judges had “violated the rights” of the defendants.
On May 2, the four rights workers were sent to Prey Sar prison to await trial, while an election official who was also charged with being an accomplice to the alleged bribery has been detained in the capital’s P.J. prison.