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Hun Sen Pardons Opposition Senator After Apology Letter


FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2015, file photo, Hong Sok Hour, right, a senator from the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, is escorted by riot police officers at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, sentenced Hong Sok Hour to seven years in prison over comments he posted on Facebook criticizing a 36-year-old border agreement with neighboring Vietnam. The court judge found him guilty of falsifying public documents, using fake documents and inciting chaos. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)

Sok Hour was jailed on charges of using forged documents he claimed detailed Vietnam’s encroachment on Cambodian territory to incite people against the government.

A former opposition senator who was sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly forging documents and incitement was pardoned on Wednesday in a surprise move after he wrote a letter of apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hong Sok Hour, a former Sam Rainsy Party senator, wrote the conciliatory letter on September 4, which was published on the pro-government website Freshnews.

King Norodom Sihamoni ordered Sok Hour be pardoned following a subsequent request from Hun Sen.

Sok Hour was jailed on charges of using forged documents he claimed detailed Vietnam’s encroachment on Cambodian territory to incite people against the government.

“I regret that I committed a mistake against Samdech [Hun Sen]’s policy on the border issue by using incorrect documents leading to public confusion,” he wrote in the letter.

“I would like to ask Samdech to consider being understanding and request the king to pardon me to allow me to go free to meet with my family and to seek [medical] treatment in France,” it added.

Sok Eysan, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, said Hun Sen had taken pity on Sok Hour. “Without the request of the head of government, the king will not [issue a] pardon. This is Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen’s caring nature,” he said.

On release from prison, Sok Hour told reporters: “Today I have been released because the king has pardoned me ... I would like to thank [Hun Sen] for compromising to allow me to have my day.”

On Wednesday, the ruling party passed amendments to the laws governing political parties that will see the opposition’s seats in parliament, the Senate, and in local authorities handed out to other political parties when it is dissolved as part of an ongoing court case filed by the government.

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