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Youth Activist Kong Raiya Released On Bail, Kept Under Court Supervision


FILE: Youth activist Kung Raiya waves his hand as a van carries him along with other prisoners from Prey Sar prison to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, in Phnom Penh, on Nov. 26, 2019. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)

Raiya was arrested in July, a day before a memorial service for slain political commentator Kem Ley, for the alleged crime of selling t-shirts with the image of Ley.

Kong Raiya was released on bail by a Phnom Penh court Friday afternoon, joining more than 70 opposition-linked activists and members who have been released on bail recently.

Kong Raiya’s bail hearing was on Tuesday but the presiding judge delayed the decision to Friday. The youth activist was released under court-supervised bail, and has to refrain from expressing his opinions on social issues and cannot travel overseas.

His wife, Sok Sreynich, 24, said presiding judge Uk Reth Kunthear granted him bail but also added the condition that he needed to present himself before court whenever summoned. This effectively restricts his movements.

“It will affect our daily work because the court can anytime summon him,” she said. “Anyway, it’s better because he can live outside prison with his child and wife,” she said.

In this supplied photo, Kong Raiya stands with family members after his release, Friday, November 29, 2019. (Courtesy Photo)
In this supplied photo, Kong Raiya stands with family members after his release, Friday, November 29, 2019. (Courtesy Photo)

Raiya was arrested in July, a day before a memorial service for slain political commentator Kem Ley, for the alleged crime of selling t-shirts with the image of Ley. He was previously convicted and sentenced to 18 months in 2016 for a post on Facebook calling for a revolution.

Sam Sokong, his lawyer, said he will continue to push the court to the drop the charges, even though the case is expected to head to trial on December 20.

His bail hearing coincides with the government’s decision to release more than 70 people on bail, most of whom have been accused with aiding opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s alleged attempt to overthrow the government earlier this month. The releases also come as the government prepares a response to a report from the European Union on whether to suspend the ‘Everything But Arms’ trade scheme for systemic rights violations.

Senior staffer at Adhoc, Soeung Sen Karuna, said the court was correct to issue bail to Kong Raiya, keeping the charges hanging over him prevented him from living a normal life.

“This freedom is not complete because Mr. Kong Raiya is still tied up with the charges,” he said.

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