Cambodian King Reduces a Former Court Official’s Sentence

A former president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court who was sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges is expected to be released six months early after the king reduced his sentence.

Ang Maltey was arrested on Aug. 16, 2015 for making personal use of an Audi sport utility vehicle confiscated from a convicted drug dealer.

The Kandal Provincial Court on February 12, 2016 sentenced him to three years in prison with one year suspended. While he was supposed to serve until August 2017, he will be freed from jail next month.

Ang Maltey's name is on a list of 45 prisoners who will receive reduced sentences according to a royal decree issued by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni.

Justice ministry spokesperson Chin Malin told RFA's Khmer Service that the sentence reductions meet official requirements that include good behavior in prison and that the prisoners have served two-thirds of their sentence.

While the prisoners may have met the criteria, their release was criticized by civil society organizations that say it is another example of Cambodia's judicial double standard.

"For those who are former activists of the ruling CPP, they settle and reduce their sentences by interpreting the law differently," said Sum Chan Kea, a spokesman for the human rights group ADHOC.

"For others who are not their supporters or hold different views, they use the same article of the law but with a different interpretation so that those people serve a more severe sentence," he added.

As an example, Sum Chan Kea raised the continuing imprisonment of four ADHOC workers and an election official, who the authorities arrested in the government's wide-ranging probe into an alleged affair by opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha.

Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, all workers for ADHOC (the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association) and National Election Commission (NEC) deputy secretary-general Ny Chakrya have been imprisoned since April.

They are also accused of attempting to pay hush money to Kem Sokha's purported mistress in the government's wide-ranging probe into the alleged affair that many inside and outside of Cambodia see as politically motivated.

Chin Malin denied the existence of a double standard.

"We don't count whether they are politicians, non-politicians, human rights activists or any other activists," he said. "The criteria must be met for all."

After a one-hour trial on Sept. 9, Kem Sokha was sentenced to five months in prison and an 800,000- riel (U.S. $200) fine for failing to appear in one of the cases related to the government's wide-ranging probe into his alleged affair with a young hairdresser.

Kem Sokha and a local Cambodia National Rescue Party official, Seang Chet, were granted royal pardons in the government's case against the CNRP leader, but the others involved in the case remain in jail.

Their case was expected to be considered during a meeting between leaders of the two parties, but the issue remains in limbo.

CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang told RFA that the meeting will cover a pair of topics: environmental protection and environment prior to election and suffrage for the nearly 1 million Cambodian migrants who work overseas.

"We will use the two topics for the talks with the CPP to find any method or procedure to facilitate overseas Cambodian migrant workers so that they are able to vote in the 2018 general elections."

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