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Cambodian Appeals Court Upholds Detention of Land Activists

More than 100 people Boeung Kak lake residents demonstrate in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Two land activists from forced evictions in Phnom Penh will not be released on bail as they await trial on incitement charges widely seen as an attack on free speech.

The two women, Yorm Bopha and Tim Sak Mony, were arrested in early September and accused of inciting violence and criminal activity among demonstrators, who have repeatedly gathered to protest forced evictions in two Phnom Penh neighborhoods for the sake of development projects.

They had filed for release from the court, which has angered many demonstrators for perceived bias towards business interests and powerful government officials. Wednesday’s hearing was not open to the public.

After the hearing Tim Sak Mony told reporters the court had “kept the same decision.”

Some 5,000 families have been forcibly evicted in the two neighborhoods—Boeung Kak and Borei Keila—producing a highly organized movement. That has meant continuous protests and clashes with authorities, often violent.

“There is no justice for us,” said Yorm Bohpa after the hearing.

In another hearing, the Appeals Court re-heard the cases of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Ouen, who are accused of murdering labor leader Chea Vichea in 2004 but who are also widely considered innocent. The Supreme Court has ordered the Appeals Court to rehear the case. That verdict is due Nov. 26.