Lawyers for jailed Sam Rainsy Party activist Sok Yoeun filed an appeal Thursday in a Bangkok court to stop the extradition of their client, who Cambodian authorities say is a suspect in the 1998 Siem Reap rocket attack that the government claims was an attempt on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s life.
A Thai criminal court ordered Sok Yoeun’s extradition in November, but his lawyers say this is a possible violation of the Thai Constitution because the presiding judge was abruptly changed shortly before the court handed down its verdict, a statement from the Sam Rainsy Party’s Bangkok office said.
The motion filed Thursday points out that the criminal court failed to fully consider the evidence presented by the defense, and had referred to nonjudicial regulations to justify its decision.
“Moreover, the accused is also a recognized political refugee by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and therefore, he is under the protection of the United Nations,” the statement read.
Sok Yoeun’s family has already been resettled by the UNHCR in Finland, but opposition party leaders here fear that he could be harmed or killed if he is returned to Cambodia. They also fear that Sok Yoeun might be pressured into implicating opposition leader Sam Rainsy in the rocket attack, which left one young boy dead.
“The repatriation of Sok Yoeun…would serve a plot for the Prime Minister Hun Sen, key leaders of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, to undermine Mr Sam Rainsy,” the statement read.
Government officials maintain that Sok Yoeun is only wanted for questioning, and has not yet been convicted any crime. Sok Yoeun is expected in court again today for another hearing on his pending extradition.
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