A Cambodian court on Friday turned down a bail request from four human rights workers and an election official who were jailed earlier this year on corruption-related charges.
The Court of Appeals denied the bail request, which was made on a number of grounds, including affects on the defendants’ health, after a brief hearing.
The Anti-Corruption Unit subpoenaed the five defendants – Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda and Lim Mony of Adhoc and Ny Chakrya of the National Election Committee – after the key witness in an ongoing case against opposition deputy leader Kem Sokha claimed the men had tried to bribe her to withhold evidence.
Sam Sokong, defense lawyer, said the arguments for release on bail had been rejected by the judge and he would therefore appeal the decision at the Supreme Court.
“The legal team cannot accept the decision,” he said.
Touch Thaovarith, court spokesman, said if the defendants were granted bail it would “obstruct the court’s procedure, therefore they must remain in pre-trial detention”.
The defendants told reporters at the court that the decision violated their rights and was “politically motivated.”
Pheav Mey, Vanda’s wife, said her husband had grown ill behind bars.
She called on “the government to check this human rights defender case and to help find justice for them and drop the charges against them, because they did not do wrong.”
Am Sam Ath, a senior rights worker at local NGO Licadho, wrote on Facebook after the hearing that Cambodian courts rarely offered bail in politically sensitive cases “even if they have enough reasons for the court to give them bail.”
He added that the defendants had been jailed for about seven months, above the legal limit for pre-trial detention of six months.