Yorm Bopha (C) with her son at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh, March 27, 2013.
Cambodia’s Court of Appeals on Friday reduced the prison term of a Phnom
Penh housing rights activist but upheld her conviction in a decision
her lawyer said would be appealed.
Yorm Bopha, a campaigner
for the rights of evictees from the city’s Boeung Kak Lake community,
had one year suspended of her original three-year sentence on charges
critics say have been manufactured to silence her.
29-year-old activist, who has denied the charges of “intentional
violence" leveled against her in connection with a skirmish that broke
out near her home last year, will not accept the decision and will take
her case to the Supreme Court, her lawyer Chan Socheat told RFA’s Khmer
Service after the hearing.
He said that although Friday’s
decision will allow her to leave prison earlier than the original
sentence, the verdict is still unfair because there was no evidence she
had committed a crime.
"The court couldn't link the crime to any suspects," he said.
Yorm Bopha was arrested in September last year in connection with the beating of a suspected thief.
has been named an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience and
local rights groups have said her case smacks of political interference
and should be thrown out.
Presiding Judge Taing Sun Lay
announced the verdict after a five-hour hearing. Yorm Bopha still has to
pay a 20 million riel (U.S. 5,000) fine, which was part of the original
Boeung Kak protesters
evictees, unhappy with the verdict, demonstrated near Cambodian Prime
Minister Hun Sen’s residence, calling on him to help them get her
The protesters were stopped by police as they marched
in the rain toward the residence, though no one was injured in the
confrontation. They did not receive a response from Hun Sen.
from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak and Borei Keila communities have staged
regular protests over their land disputes over the past several years
since plans emerged for them to be relocated to make way for new
Last month, city officials said the
city’s newly appointed governor Pa Socheatvong would re-examine the
Boeung Kak and Borei Keila land disputes that rocked his predecessor’s
term, but would not intervene in Yorm Bopha’s case as her sentence was
up to the courts.
Local rights groups say Yorm Bopha has been
targeted for her activism since she emerged at the forefront of a
campaign for the release 13 Boueng Kak women imprisoned last year.