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Little Hope for Release of Rights Workers, Election Official: Analysts

Ny Chakrya, second from left, former ADHOC and a National Election Committee member who worked at the organization, sits in a car and is transported back to an Anti-Corruption Unit, ACU, after a short appearance at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, April 30, 2016.

A lawyer for Ny Chakrya said the court had now finished questioning his client and he would now remain in prison until trial.

Human rights workers and an election official being held on bribery charges in a Phnom Penh prison continued to be questioned this week in relation to an ongoing case against the deputy leader of Cambodia’s opposition party, Kem Sokha.

The four officials from local rights group Adhoc and Ny Chakrya, a member of the National Election Committee, were arrested in April and charged with bribery and being an accomplice to bribing a witness in the case against Sokha.

Sokha remains holed up in the Cambodia National Rescue Party headquarters in the capital, where he has remained since an attempt was made to arrest him in late May.

Tensions have been simmering ever since, and analysts say that there is little chance of the five being released unless a political compromise can be reached to end the deadlock.

Am Sam ath, head of Licadho’s investigations unit, said on Wednesday that he doubted there would be a resolution to the case until both sides sat down at the negotiating table.

“Thus, with all these issues, if we look at the case, it’s involved with the political situation that remains tense. So, if the politicians reached a compromise and the political situation calmed down, I believe that those people would hopefully be released on bail,” he said.

Kem Ley, formerly a political analyst who this year founded his own party, the Grassroots Democracy Party, said rather than a political resolution leading to the release of the five detained, he would like to see an investigation into the decision to charge them.

“If those people were not found guilty, the Supreme Council of Magistracy must take measures to probe the courts that tried these cases,” he said, adding that a political détente leading to their release would be a hollow victory.

Chakrya was charged as an accomplice to the alleged bribery of Khom Chandaraty, the woman at the heart of a solicitation case against Sokha. Along with Chakrya, the four Adhoh workers – Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda and Lim Mony – are accused of offering Chandaraty money to withhold evidence from the court.

Sam Sokong, a lawyer for Chakrya, said the court had now finished questioning his client and he would now remain in prison until trial.

The detention of the five suspects has received widespread local and international condemnation.

The case was originally sparked by the publication of an audio recording that officials claimed was a conversation between Sokha and Chandaraty implicating him in criminal activity.