PHNOM PENH —
The Supreme Court on Wednesday delayed a ruling on whether to grant bail to opposition lawmaker Um Sam An.
Sam An, an American citizen, was detained in April after he made comments on Facebook regarding the line of demarcation between Cambodia and Vietnam.
He maintains that as a lawmaker he is immune from prosecution according to the constitution and refused to answer questions from judges on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Chhoun Chantha called for the court to continue Sam An’s imprisonment ahead of a verdict in the case.
Kim Sathavy, one of the presiding judges, said the decision would be postponed until August 17.
Sam An is being held under article 205 of the criminal code, which allows or detention without bail if there is a fear that releasing the defendant could endanger public order.
His legal team, however, argues that Sam An did not commit a crime and his Facebook comments were protected by freedom of expression rules and therefore he should not be held.
“I hope that the jurist council of the Supreme Court will confer [justice], because at this time the Supreme Court didn’t yet announce its ruling, meaning they decided to delay until [August] 17,” he said.
Dressed in an orange prison-issue jump suit, Sam An said that he did not expect to be released while political tensions in the country remained high.
“The ones who protect the border are in prison, while the ones who cut out the land for Youn have their freedom,” he said, using a word for Vietnamese that is often considered derogatory.
Some 17 other opposition members and activists are also in jail, including Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour, who was charged with the same offense as Sam An.