PHNOM PENH - The Cambodian Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of housing activist Yorm Bopha, who has been held for 14 months on charges her supporters say were exaggerated in hopes of curtailing eviction protests.
The court ordered Yorm Bopha, 29, released on bail, while it ordered the Court of Appeals to rehear her case.
After her release, she told journalists she was not satisfied with the decision.
That’s because a retrial means there is a chance she will be re-jailed, as were two men, Born Samnang and Sok Samoeun, who were widely seen as wrongfully convicted of the murder of a labor activist in 2004.
“Why did the Supreme Court release me on bail?” she asked. “I’m still worried. My case is the same as Born Samnang and Sok Samoeun. After they were released on bail, they were re-arrested.”
Yorm Bopha, a community leader and housing rights activist, is accused of assaulting two motorcycle taxi drivers in 2012. But her supporters say those charges were exaggerated as a lesson to other would-be activists and demonstrators. She could face up to another year in jail for the charges.
One of her alleged victims, Nget Chet, told VOA Khmer he was not against Friday’s decision, but he is still seeking compensation for his injuries.
After a hearing of nearly three hours at the Supreme Court on Friday, judge Khim Pon, head of the court, ordered Yorm Bopha’s release and ordered the Appeals Court the rehear the case.
Supporters and monks gathered outside, holding lotus flowers and banners, some with their faces painted black and white, urging her full release.
Tep Vanny, a housing activists and representative of evictees and residents of the Beoung Kak lake development, in Phnom Penh, said she wanted to see “100 percent freedom” for Yorm Bopha.