Activist Vanny gets 30 months, while security guards beat man in City Mall

Boeung Kak lake activist Bov Sophea is dragged by officials during a violent clash outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after fellowactivist Tep Vanny’s trial yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Boeung Kak lake activist Bov Sophea is dragged by officials during a violent clash outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after fellowactivist Tep Vanny’s trial yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Land activist Tep Vanny was yesterday found guilty and sentenced to 30 months in prison for allegedly ordering an attack on Daun Penh security guards some four years ago.

As the verdict was being handed down inside the courtroom, security guards on the street outside were shoving and kicking Vanny’s fellow activists, chasing one man into a nearby restaurant and beating him in a videotaped incident that quickly went viral.

The charges stemmed from a 2013 clash with Daun Penh security guards outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence in Phnom Penh as she and a group of about 60 others attempted to submit a petition for the release of fellow Boeung Kak lake activist Yorm Bopha.

On the day in question, about 200 police, military police and Daun Penh guards – an untrained auxiliary force with a history of brutality at peaceful protests – violently dispersed the group, injuring about 10 of them in the process.

Vanny and two others were briefly detained and released that day, with no charges being filed.

But the nearly four-year-old case was suddenly revived in August after Vanny was arrested for participating in a “cursing ceremony” as part of the so-called Black Monday protests.

Yesterday’s verdict saw her convicted of intentional aggravated violence and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. She was also fined 5 million riel ($1,240) and ordered to pay 4 million and 5 million riel compensation, respectively, to plaintiffs Hao Hoeurn and Ouk Ratana – both Daun Penh security guards.

“I did not commit the [crime],” Vanny said, as she broke down. “I’ve never seen [Hao Hoeurn’s] face, and when I saw it I was very shocked, because he is so big. How could I beat him?”

The trial began on February 3 but was abruptly adjourned the same day by judge Long Kesor Pirum after a commotion broke out in court between one of the plaintiffs, Tep Vanny and observing activists. Pirum cited personal health issues as he postponed the hearing.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Protesters carry posters of Boeung Kak activist Tep Vanny before her trial outside court yesterday. Heng Chivoan

As the trial resumed yesterday, Prampi Makara district security guards outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court attempted to disperse protesters, kicking and physically dragging them across the street. In the scuffle, two Boeung Kak residents and a pregnant woman from the Borei Keila community suffered minor injuries and fainted.

The security guards then turned their attention to 46-year-old Mao Socheat after he attempted to intervene, chasing him into a restaurant and punching him repeatedly in an incident captured on video.

Socheat, who recently applied to be a CNRP candidate in the commune elections only to later withdraw, insisted he had only been asking security to unhand the female activists.

“They came to beat me, but I tried to avoid it and fell down on the street. I got up and ran inside City Mall, because I thought I would be safe there,” he said.

Video footage of guards beating Mao Socheat in City Mall:

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey yesterday refused to comment on Socheat’s beating, saying he had not seen the video, but defended the actions of Prampi Makara security guards.

“I do not consider this violence. It was just pushing from both sides,” he said, adding that Vanny’s supporters had been conducting an “illegal protest”.

Inside in the courtroom, three Boeung Kak residents – Nget Khun, Bo Chhorvy and Kong Chantha – testified on behalf of the defendants, saying the group’s attempt to submit a petition to the premier had not been a demonstration.

No witnesses appeared for the prosecution, though statements from the Daun Penh security guard plaintiffs – also absent – were read aloud in court.

“I heard Tep Vanny order through a loudspeaker telling protesters to go into the prime minister’s house,” Ouk Ratana said in a statement. “Another lady, who was about 50, carried a bag and beat our group, injuring the back of my head.”

Defence lawyer Sam Sokun-thea was quick to point out that the guards had accused Vanny of allegedly instigating the violence but made no attempt to arrest the other alleged perpetrators mentioned in the statements.

“There is no audio or video to show my client used violence, only the answers of the plaintiffs,” she said. “There is no strong evidence against my client.”

More than 60 civil society groups yesterday condemned both the “unjust conviction” and “outrageous violence”, adding that there was no credible evidence to support the case.

“Authorities are once again punishing Vanny for her activism to send a clear message to any who dare criticise the government that dissent is not tolerated in Cambodia,” said Naly Pilorge of Licadho.

Source: Phnom Penh Post

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Leading Land Activist Jailed Amid Attacks On Dissenters

Tep Vanny stands in the dock as her sentence is read out at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday morning, in a photograph posted anonymously online.

Tep Vanny stands in the dock as her sentence is read out at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday morning, in a photograph posted anonymously online.

Tep Vanny, the country’s most prominent land rights activist, was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Thursday for her role in a protest almost four years ago, in what critics slammed as a politically fueled attempt by the government to sideline her in the run-up to crucial elections. Continue reading

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Protest violence as activist jailed

Protesters are caught up in scuffles outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Protesters are caught up in scuffles outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court. KT/Chor Sokunthea

At least three women – one pregnant – and a man were hurt in a clash with security forces at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after land rights activist Tep Vanny was jailed for two and a half years over a 2013 protest.
Ms. Vanny was charged with using violence against Daun Penh security guards near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh. Continue reading

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Tep Vanny hit with 30-month jail sentence

A fight erupts outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court this morning. Heng Chivoan

A fight erupts outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court this morning. Heng Chivoan

Violence marred the trial of prominent land activist Tep Vanny, who was sentenced earlier this morning to two years and six months for aggravated intentional violence in relation to a 2013 protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence in Phnom Penh.

As Vanny’s trial resumed after a two week recess, Prampi Makara district security guards started to kick, shove and drag land activists who gathered outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court premises, pushing them to the other side of the street. Two Boeung Kak lake activists and one pregnant woman from the Borei Keila community suffered minor injuries and fainted during the scuffle.

In the ensuing melee, about six security guards could be seen chasing Mao Socheat, a motodop and resident of Samaki Rainsy pagoda, into the nearby City Mall, where they beat him up for attempting to defend the protesters.

Video footage of guards beating Mao Socheat in City Mall:

“When we heard they were going to take Tep Vanny to prison, we wanted to show our support,” said Boeung Kak activist Song Sreyleap. “But the authorities did not want us to do that and beat us, pushed us away from the court.”

Inside Courtroom 3, screams and shouted slogans broke out among Vanny supporters as judge Long Kesor Pirum announced she would be sent to Prey Sar prison for 30 months. She was also fined 5 million riel ($1,240) and and ordered to pay 9 million riel ($2,240) in compensation to the two plaintiffs – Daun Penh security guards Hao Hoeurn and Ouk Ratana.

The trial, which commenced on February 3, was abruptly adjourned the same day after judge Kesor Pirum cited health reasons. Neither of the plaintiffs was in court nor were the Daun Penh security guards – with only their written statements read out during the trial.

“There were about 100 people at the protest on March 13, 2013,” read Hoeurn’s statement. “Then we heard Tep Vanny give the order to start violence against the authorities.”

Defense lawyer Sam Sokunthea, in her closing argument, said there was no truth to the security guards’ accusations and said the perfect synchronicity between prosecution witness testimonies was troubling.

“The evidence given by the plaintiffs is not reliable,” she said. “The evidence from them and the two prosecution witnesses seemed coordinated.”

Source: Phnom Penh Post

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Demonstrators Attacked as Cambodian Court Convicts Prominent Activist

Activist Bov Sophea was injured during a clash with security guards at the Phnom Penh Municipal Courthouse, Feb. 23, 2017.

Activist Bov Sophea was injured during a clash with security guards at the Phnom Penh Municipal Courthouse, Feb. 23, 2017.

Security guards outside a Phnom Penh courthouse attacked demonstrators who came to support land rights activist Tep Vanny during her trial Thursday for a 2013 protest near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home. Continue reading

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Activist Tep Vanny Sentenced to More Than Two Years in Prison

Prominent Boeng Kak activist Tep Vanny smiles as she is transported to a hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court earlier this month. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Prominent Boeng Kak activist Tep Vanny smiles as she is transported to a hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court earlier this month. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Tep Vanny, one of the country’s most prominent rights activists, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Thursday over charges related to a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh mansion in 2013.

The decision is the latest in what is widely Continue reading

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Court hears appeal of Tep Vanny, activists

Tep Vanny escorted by officials after her bail request was denied in Appeals Court yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Tep Vanny escorted by officials after her bail request was denied in Appeals Court yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Tep Vanny and three fellow Boeung Kak activists yesterday maintained their innocence and requested all charges be dropped as they contested their six-month prison sentences handed down over a 2011 clash between their community and security personnel. Continue reading

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