Home News Health of detained Cambodian opposition leader is declining, wife says

Health of detained Cambodian opposition leader is declining, wife says

The wife of detained Cambodian opposition leader Thach Setha said he is in poor health and is having trouble walking as a Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge in his false check case adjourned a trial on Wednesday to allow lawyers to submit more evidence. 

Thach Setha’s health is deteriorating partly because he is being held in a small detention cell where he is unable to move around, his wife told Radio Free Asia.

“There is no justice for my husband because the case has been delayed almost eight months,” Thach Sokborany said. “I want the court to release him on bail so he can monitor his health. His health is bad, but he is trying.”

Thach Setha is the vice president of Cambodia’s main opposition Candlelight Party. He was arrested in January on charges of issuing bad checks from his bank account.

He’s denied the allegation. The Candlelight Party has said that the charges were part of a campaign of intimidation and threats against the opposition leaders and activists ahead of last month’s parliamentary elections.

The Candlelight Party – the only major party that could have challenged Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party – wasn’t allowed to compete in the July 23 election after the National Election Committee disqualified the party, citing inadequate paperwork.

Preliminary results show the CPP winning 120 of 125 seats in the National Assembly.

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Additional charge

In April, an additional “incitement to provoke social chaos” charge was added to Thach Setha’s case over remarks he made in a speech last year while visiting Japan.

NGO and Candlelight Party officials have accused the court of deliberately attempting to keep him detained so that he couldn’t campaign in the runup to the election.

Thach Sokborany said Judge Chhun Davy refused to allow her husband’s lawyers a chance to argue his side of the case at Wednesday’s trial. 

But his defense lawyer, Son Chum Chuon, told RFA that the trial was adjourned to an unspecified date to allow both the defense and prosecutors to submit additional materials. 

“As a defense team, we will fight justice for my client. I want the court to drop charges against my client,” he said.

RFA couldn’t reach court spokesman and Deputy Prosecutor Plang Sophal for comment on Wednesday.

Srey Sohorn, the working group chief for Candlelight’s Kandal province office, went to the court on Wednesday to express support for Thach Setha. He said the case has been politically motivated since the start.  

“The bad check story was an old case and shouldn’t be revisited. It should be resolved with the plaintiffs,” he said. “The case should be dropped. But instead, the court added another charge.”

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