PHNOM PENH —
The Supreme Court has upheld Appeal Court's decision to sentence Tep Vanny, the Boeung Kak lake activist, to two and a half years in prison for alleged violence at a protest in 2013.
She was accused of assaulting security officers at a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh in March 2013, where security forces had been recorded violently attacking protesters.
The case against Vanny was marked by a lack of evidence and political manipulation.
In her appeal, Vanny said she should be released and pledged to no longer protest on the issue of Boeung Kak, Cambodia’s most high-profile urban land grabbing dispute.
During the one-hour hearing, Vanny’s lawyers claimed she had not committed a crime and there was no evidence or witnesses to confirm she had assaulted the officers as was claimed.
Kim Sathary, who led the hearing, said bail would be denied. “Tep Vanny’s appeal is not reasonable, so it is rejected,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with local rights group Adhoc, said if the government had been pro-active in resolving the Boeung Kak dispute, Vanny would have had no reason to protest in the first place.
“However, she was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, which means there is one year left until she is free,” he said.
Thirty-four civil society groups issued a statement expressing regret over the decision and urging the relevant authorities to review the case.