14 Cambodian opposition members granted royal pardon

  • Cambodian opposition member Meach Sovannara gestures as he speaks with media representatives while posing with other members and activists at their house in Phnom Penh early Tuesday after they were released by Royal Pardon.

Fourteen former officials of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) who were serving jail terms from seven to 20 years were Monday night released from prison in Phnom Penh after they were pardoned by King Norodom Sihamoni, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported today.

King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal decree on Monday night to pardon the 14  CNRP officials, including senior member Meach Sovannara, at the request of prime minister-designate Hun Sen.

Some 300 people, including several CNRP officials, gathered in front of Prey Sar prision in Phnom Penh late into the night after Sovannara’s wife posted news on her Facebook page that former CNRP officials and activists would be freed.

The royal pardon was made after Sovannara and other activists wrote a letter to Hun Sen seeking to be released amid a wake of pardons for political activists since the July 29 national elections.

The CNRP officials were convicted by the Phnom Penh municipal court in July 2015 on charges related to a political demonstration at Freedom Park the year before.  The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in June.  They were serving jail terms ranging from seven to 20 years.

“We have been imprisoned for more than three years.  We are regret joining the demonstration at Freedom Park which seriously affected security and social order,” the letter read.

“We would like to promise that from now on we will not join any demonstration or any activity with such consideration.”

Besides Sovannara, other signatories of the letter included Khin Roeun, Neang Sokhun, San Seyhak, Keo Khim, Sum Puthy.

Two who did not sign the petition letter were also pardoned.