Travesty of Justice: Bopha sentenced to three years’ imprisonment

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This morning Yorm Bopha, her husband Lous Sakorm, and her two brothers Yorm Kamhong and Yorm Seth were convicted of international violence with aggravating circumstances under article 218 of the Penal Code. Each was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a fine of 30,000,000 in compensation to each victim (total of $15,000 for both victims). The prison sentence of husband Lous Sakorm is suspended, so he walked free from court. Bopha on the other hand was taken back to CC2 prison where she has already spent over 100 days in pre-trial detention. Arrest warrants were issued for Yorm Kamhong and Yorm Seth.

At a road block some 500m from court, community members, family, and friends gathered early in the morning in support of Bopha. Bopha’s 8-year-old son, Lous Lyhour, was also there. While waiting for the verdict, the crowd sang and banged drums in front of the police in riot gear and electric shock shields. As the verdict was announced, the crowd broke down in tears. Some people also tried to break through the police barricade, only to have the electric shock shields used on them. At least two women fainted and one was injured in the tussles.

In the meantime, Lous Lyhour – Bopha’s son – was crying inconsolably and calling for his mother.

The verdict came after the release of Tim Sakmony, like Bopha an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, last night. Although Sakmony too was found guilty, her sentence was suspended as of yesterday, and she joined the crowds calling for Bopha’s release today. The verdict also came only a few hours after Phnom Penh Appeal Court announced that it would uphold Phnom Penh Municipal Court verdict against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who are accused of killing labour union leader Chea Vichea. The Appeal Court announcement means that the two men will be returned to prison to serve 20-year sentences.

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