The Appeals Court on Thursday said a staff member for the rights group Licadho would remain in jail on charges of distributing anti-government leaflets.
Licadho, which has maintained Leang Sokchoeun’s innocence, denounced the decision.
Police arrested Leang Sokchouen, 28, at his home in Phnom Penh in May 2010 on charges of disinformation after he was accused of delivering leaflets against celebrations of the January 7, 1979, invasion of Vietnamese forces.
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party celebrates that day as the end of the Khmer Rouge rule, but opponents say it also marks the beginning of a 10-year occupation that many remain embittered over.
Leang Sokchouen was given a two-year prison sentence and $500 fine in August 2010. The Appeals Court upheld that decision after a hearing Thursday.
“I am very sorry for what happened in the issuing of the verdict this morning,” Licadho attorney Ham Sunrith said.
Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for Licadho, said the evidence in the case is unclear and that the name on a police arrest warrant did not match Leang Sokchouen.
“The arrest warrant was for Leang Sokly, [alias] Chouen, of Vietnamese nationality, but police arrested Leang Sokchouen, a Licadho staff member of Cambodian nationality,” he said.
Police linked him to two other suspects who had studied with him in 2005, Am Sam Ath said.
There is also a question regarding the charges. He was first charged for disinformation under the Untac criminal code, but that was later revised to incitement under the new penal code, in what Licadho founder Pung Chhiv Kek called a “surprise” with no legal grounding.
He should have been charged under the Untac code, she said, because at the time of his arrest, the new penal code had not come into effect.