Seng Theary Relocated to Preah Vihear Prison

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Seng Chan Theary dressed as Lady Liberty earlier this morning. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)
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A Cambodian-American lawyer jailed this week amid dozens of convictions in an opposition mass trial was relocated from Phnom Penh to Preah Vihear without the knowledge of her lawyer.

Seng Chan Theary was sentenced to prison for plotting and incitement alongside 30 others on Tuesday. She was handed a six-year jail term.

Chan Theary’s lawyer, Choung Chou Ngy, said he had attempted to visit her in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar Prison Friday morning, only to be told she had been sent to the Preah Vihear provincial prison on Wednesday. He was not given a reason.

“I will go there to consult with her in order to appeal to the upper court,” Chou Ngy said.

Chou Ngy had earlier this week complained of being denied access to her at Prey Sar Prison’s Correctional Center 2 on the afternoon of her sentencing.

Chan Theary’s case in particular has attracted international media attention and drawn concern from the U.S. Embassy.

The mass trials, in which defendants were prosecuted for supporting exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s attempt to return to the country in 2019, was labeled a “show trial” that “exposes the Hun Sen government’s fear of any vestige of democracy in Cambodia” by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday.

Prisons department spokesman Nuth Savna could not yet be reached on Friday.

However, on Thursday, Savna said prison officials had not been allowing meetings with Chan Theary as she was causing disruptions.

The controller of the prison knew clearly about the procedure of allowing lawyers to meet clients, but the prison was on high alert as it had received information that Chan Theary’s supporters were preparing to protest outside, Savna said.

“We want to control [everyone] by the same standard, but she, herself, is different from others. So we also find different measures [to use] from the others. Be informed about this, and don’t think that we are discriminating because she was a political activist. It is not that.”

Additional reporting by Khan Leakhena and Pa Sokheng

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