court upholds conviction of land rights activist yorm bopha, but reduces her sentence

Yorm Bopha is one of the leaders of protests against evictions in the Boeng Kak area of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. On Friday, the Court of Appeals in Phnom Penh upheld her conviction of assault, a trumped-up charge. Yet the court reduced her three-year sentence to two years. According to yesterday’s news release by Human Rights Watch,

Yorm Bopha was originally convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in December 2012, for allegedly masterminding a conspiracy involving her husband and two brothers… The absence of credible evidence against her showed that the charges were a politically motivated attempt to retaliate against her for her activism. She was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, while her husband received a suspended jail term. The brothers were convicted in absentia and sentenced to prison.

Bopha filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on Monday. Yesterday protesters descended on the Royal Palace to submit a petition to Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, pleading for an intervention on Bopha’s behalf, but more than 60 officers and riot police cracked down on the demonstration. After officers grabbed portraits of Bopha, protesters swung at officers with sarongs and attempted to push them back. Following a brief clash, the protesters read their petition over loudspeakers and submitted it to two officials from the palace.