PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
From early hours of the morning, Kratie and Borei Keila villagers joined supporters of Mam Sonando and turned up to the Municipal Court in Phnom Penh to show their support and demand his prompt release. The 71 year-old journalist and owner of Beehive Radio Station, was arrested on July 15 and charged with inciting an alleged secessionist movement in Kratie after a land-grab related incident which led to the dead of a 14 year-old girl.
Having had the road blocked in front of the Municipal Court by the police, protestors were restricted to demonstrate a few hundred meters away from the building. Soon enough, villagers clashed with the police after they tried to push their way through the man-made barricade shouting once again for justice.
Among the crowd, Mu Sochua, a prominent leader from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), actively supported the protestors. Addressing the police officers, Ms. Sochua continuously questioned their morals pointing out that their low salaries did not justify betraying their own people.
Considering the recent increase in the number of high profile cases where defendants have gone to jail after remarkably short hearings, it came as a surprise that the court did not reach a decision on the Sonando case within hours of the trial. The hearing is now expected to extend for days, despite the feeling by many, that a verdict has already been made by the court.