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RSF Calls Pornography Charges Against Ex-RFA Reporters ‘Grotesque’


FILE: Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, former RFA reporters talk to reporters outside of appeal court on 23 December, 2019. (Tum Malis/VOA)

The Appeal Court on Monday agreed with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to send their pornography case for further investigation, despite completing the entire trial in August.

A press freedom advocacy group has called the continuing pornography proceedings against two former Radio Free Asia reporters as grotesque and said that the charges needed to be dropped.

The two former RFA reporters, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, have been charged for espionage and a baseless pornography charge for which the prosecution has not produced any evidence so far. The content was allegedly found on one of the reporters’ computers and was produced with a foreign citizen.

The Appeal Court on Monday agreed with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to send their pornography case for further investigation, despite completing the entire trial in August.

Reporters Without Borders said the Appeal Court had a chance to “recover a semblance of credibility” by dismissing the “grotesque proceedings” into the pornography charges.

“This totally trumped-up charge shows that the Cambodian justice system has now gone beyond the pale,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “Everything indicates that the regime fabricated this case with the aim of intimidating all Cambodian journalists".

The Appeal Court in on January 20 will consider a similar appeal from the two former RFA reporters, this time on the espionage charges. The two are currently on bail after serving around nine months in prison after their arrest in November 2017.

Justice Ministry spokesperson Chin Malin dismissed the statement and said the court system cannot be swayed by the opinion of an international organization nor would it help the two former reporters in their case.

“The fact that they just accused our judiciary system of being not independent or fair can’t be used as legal basis to defend the accused persons,” he said.

However, Yeang Sotherain said that the criticism showed that the courts had erred and dropping the charges would be a step towards correcting that.

“If the Cambodian courts do not pay attention to their statements, it means that our courts are spoiling the reputation of our court system,” he said.

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