Outspoken government critic Kim Sok was rejected bail at the Supreme Court this morning, with the prosecutor arguing that to grant Sok early release from an 18-month prison sentence would cause “chaos” in society.
Sok was arrested in February last year on charges of defamation and incitement for suggesting that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party was behind the brazen daylight murder of popular political analyst Kem Ley. He was convicted in August of "incitement" and defamation, but was seeking release on bail pending the exhaustion of his appeal, which is currently before the Supreme Court.
“I filed the [bail request] to the Supreme Court because it is an injustice; also Prime Minister Hun Sen has been using his power and his officials to put me in a dark prison,” Sok said.
He alleged his rights had been violated in prison, namely that he had received beatings and death threats, and said if released he would not flee but would gather evidence to challenge his conviction.
“I will not run, I will fight the case,” he said.
Supreme Court Prosecutor Chan Dara Rasmey urged the court to deny Sok’s request, “for the sake of society, for the sake of the public and for the sake of Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen".
Presiding Judge Kim Sothavy decided to uphold the municipal and Appeal Court decisions, citing legal “procedures”, and adding “the request for bail is unimportant because the court has already sentenced him to 18 months”.
Cambodian People's Party lawyer Ky Tech yesterday applauded the decision of the Supreme Court, adding that a second incitement and defamation case against Sok – ironically brought after he tried to walk back his earlier comments – had been filed by Hun Sen and was still under legal consideration.
Tech said Sok was “confrontational”, refused to listen to the judge and insulted the court.
“If he is released on bail, crimes will happen all over the place because he does not listen to anybody,” Tech said. “He caused chaos and inflamed the anger of the people against the [ruling Cambodian People's Party].”
After he was refused bail, Sok accused the court of being the premier’s pawn.
“The court is just a rubber stamp for Hun Sen … The court helps Hun Sen to jail democracy,” he said as he was handcuffed and led out of the court room.