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Chea Vichea Murder

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Civil society groups call for justice for slain trade union leader

January 22, 2018 Trade union and civil society activists gathered in central Phnom Penh this morning to mark the fourteenth anniversary of the murder of former trade union leader Chea Vichea.

A ceremony was held to pay tribute to the former President of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) who was gunned-down in broad daylight on 22 January 2004. Two innocent men – Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeurn – were falsely convicted for the crime and spent five years in jail before their sentences were overturned.

Participants at the commemoration called on authorities to find the real perpetrators and provide justice for Vichea and his family and friends. Vichea’s brother Chea Mony, also a former FTUWKC leader, was absent. He was due in court this morning for questioning following a complaint brought by government-aligned trade unions.

Related Material:

Statement CSOs call for an End to Impunity in Cambodia on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

November 2, 2015audio available

To mark the United Nations’ second International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, we, the undersigned civil society organizations (“CSOs”), call upon the Royal Government of Cambodia to bring an end to Cambodia’s rampant culture of impunity, and to ensure that the perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice.

Statement
Cambodia’s Supreme Court Declares Two scapegoats of Union Leader’s Murder Not Guilty

September 25, 2013audio available

We, the undersigned organisations, welcome the long overdue decision made by the Supreme Court this afternoon to free Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun and drop all charges against them .

Statement
An Open Letter to International Garment Brands Sourcing from Cambodia

May 1, 2013audio available

On this International Labor Day, we, the undersigned civil society groups call upon all international garment brands sourcing from Cambodia to publicly denounce two recent baseless judicial decisions related to the garment sector. The first is the recent imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun. The two men were scapegoated and wrongly convicted in the 2004 murder of labor leader Chea Vichea. The second is the government’s failure to appropriately prosecute Chhouk Bandith, a well-connected former town governor who shot and severely injured three female garment factory workers.

Statement
Scapegoats Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun Unjustly Back in Jail

December 27, 2012audio available

We, the undersigned organizations, condemn in the strongest terms the unexpected decision by Appeals Court Judges Chhoun Sunleng, Seng Sivutha and Khoun Leang Meng to uphold the Phnom Penh court’s grossly unfair verdict against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun. The two were arrested by Ministry of Interior police officers in the hearing room and sent back to jail earlier this morning.

The pair, widely believed to have been framed as scapegoats for the 2004 killing of unionist Chea Vichea, had been freed in December 2008 by a courageous Supreme Court, in a decision which ordered further investigation into the killing amid extensive evidence of their innocence.

Article
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun Released From Prison

January 18, 2009

On December 31, 2008, the Supreme Court announced the release on bail of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun after 1799 days of wrongful imprisonment, and ordered the Appeal Court to re-investigate their case. The two men were held at PJ prison for almost five years after being wrongly convicted of the assassination of Chea Vichea, leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC). Their provisional release signifies an important step towards the resolution of a case dogged by miscarriages of justice.

Statement Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, Innocent Prisoners - 1,700 days behind Bars

September 23, 2008

Today marks the 1,700th day that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun have spent in prison for a crime they did not commit.

Despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, the two men continue to serve 20-year prison sentences for the murder of trade union leader Chea Vichea. They remain in Phnom Penh’s PJ prison, where they have been since their arrests on January 28, 2004.

“After more than four years and seven months in prison, it is long overdue that the gross injustice done to Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun be ended and that they be released,” said LICADHO director Naly Pilorge.

Article
After Four Years the Cambodian Judiciary Still Denies Justice to Chea Vichea, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeum

January 28, 2008

Today, the 28th of January, 2008, marks the fourth year of imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeum who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the murder of Chea Vichea, President of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia. As of today the two men have served a total of 1,461 days in prison.

Statement Chea Vichea, Born Samnang & Sok Sam Oeun - Justice Denied

January 27, 2008

As of tomorrow, January 28, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun will have spent four years in prison - a total of 1,461 days - since their initial arrests in 2004. They are serving 20-year prison sentences after they were convicted of Chea Vichea’s murder in a grossly unfair trial.

The denial of justice to the family of Chea Vichea, and the continued imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, reflects poorly on the state of rule of law in Cambodia. The longer that this situation continues, the greater the injustice suffered by these individuals, and the greater the damage done to the reputation of Cambodia's justice system.

We appeal once more for the immediate release of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun from prison, which is essential to begin to restore some level of justice in this case.

Briefing Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun: Innocent Prisoners Awaiting Justice 2007

June 19, 2007

The assassination of trade unionist Chea Vichea and the convictions of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun represent the most glaring example of impunity and miscarriage of justice in Cambodia today. There is overwhelming evidence that the two convicted men, now serving 20-year prison terms, were deliberately targeted as scapegoats for the murder. Cambodia's justice system has not only failed them, but has actively perpetrated the injustice against them. This case highlights the grave deficiencies of Cambodia's judiciary - particularly its lack of independence and impartiality - and casts undeniable doubt upon the government's stated commitment to rule of law. The release of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun from prison is essential if the justice system is ever to have any credibility.

Statement Unjust verdict of Appeal Court on Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun case

April 12, 2007

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 23 NGO members, deeply regrets the Court of Appeal's decision to uphold the Phnom Penh Municipal Courts verdict in the case of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who were convicted of murdering Chea Vichea and sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay U$5000 each in compensation.

CHRAC considers that the verdict announced by the Appeal Court presiding judge Mr. Saly Theara this morning is very unjust and politically biased, and that the court did not use its independent power to make a fair and reasonable decision on this case.

Article
Campaign launched in Cambodia to free innocent men wrongly convicted of murder

January 29, 2007

January 28, 2007 marked three years or 1,096 days - that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun have spent in prison since their arrests for the assassination of prominent trade unionist Chea Vichea. One day in prison for an innocent man is too long; both men have spent the last three years in prison for a crime that there is considerable evidence they did not commit. To mark the anniversary of their arrests, Cambodian NGOs and trade unions launched a public campaign that will continue until their release from prison.

Statement 3 years of injustice for Born Samnang & Sok Sam Oeun

January 28, 2007

On the three-year anniversary of the arrests of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, Cambodian NGOs and trade unions are today launching a continuous public campaign for their release from prison.

"The injustice suffered by these two men has gone on far too long. The courts must set them free, so that they can return to their families and their normal lives," said Thun Saray, President of ADHOC.

Despite extensive evidence of their innocence, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun are serving 20-year prison sentences for the murder of prominent trade unionist Chea Vichea. Many individuals - including former King Norodom Sihanouk, Chea Vichea's family and the main eyewitness to the murder - have declared that they are innocent. The two men have been waiting for 18 months for the Court of Appeal to review their case.

Briefing Born Samnang & Sok Sam Oeun Trial Issues and Transcript

January 25, 2007

The August 1, 2005 trial and convictions of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun for the murder of trade unionist Chea Vichea was marked by violations of fair trial rights and a lack of credible evidence. The following are some of the main issues raised by the trial that will be reviewed in this paper: 1/ Failure to hear prosecution witnesses in court, 2/ Lack of evidence, 3/ Undue reliance on confessions, etc.

The unofficial transcript is based on written notes taken during the trial; it is not verbatim and some parts of the trial were inaudible.

Statement 1000 Days in Prison -- Born Samnang & Sok Sam Oeun Must Be Released

October 23, 2006

On the 1000-day anniversary of the arrests of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, LICADHO urges the Court of Appeal to promptly consider the two men's case and to release them.

Today, October 23, is the 1000th day that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun have spent in custody since their arrests on January 28, 2004 for allegedly killing prominent trade unionist Chea Vichea. They are currently serving 20-year prison sentences for the murder, despite extensive evidence of their innocence. Many individuals - including former King Norodom Sihanouk, Chea Vichea's family and the prime witness to the murder - have declared that they are innocent.