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Three More Released After Beehive Radio Owner

A Cambodian supporter holds a banner reading: "The court system must be respected by the public not for..." as she sits with other supporters of Mam Sonando, one of Cambodia’s most prominent human rights defenders, in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Some 300 supporters gathered for prayer for local radio station owner Sonando, who has been held in pre-trial detention for almost two months for insurrection charge, during his court appearance. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
PHNOM PENH - Three villagers who were detained last year alongside Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando were released from prison on Tuesday, following 10 months in detention.

Touch Rem, Kan Sovann and Phorn Srouen were arrested following a government crackdown in Kratie province in May and accused of being part of a secessionist movement. The suspects said they had been arrested and erroneously charged, as Mam Sonando was. They were sentenced to five years each in prison.

Touch Rem, who was charged with anti-government activities, told VOA Khmer the courts had made a “mistake.” Twenty witnesses spoke on his behalf, but the court sided with two witnesses who said he had committed wrongdoing, he said. He called the decision “an injustice.”

Mam Sonando, 72, who was jailed in July and charged with fomenting a secessionist movement in Kratie province, was released on Friday, following an Appeals Court hearing that overturned the decision of a lower court. He still faces charges related to deforestation that were raised by the Appeals Court prosecutor, which carries a suspended sentence of five years, a decision he has said he will appeal to the Supreme Court.