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11 Oct 2023

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Environmental rights defender freed after Regional Court of Appeal drop charges against him

"Environmental and Land Activists Freed, As Opposition Party Calls for The Release of All Political Prisoners", 11 October 2023

The Regional Court of Appeal has dropped the charges against activist Chhorn Phalla in Ratanakiri province … for allegedly clearing state forest land, as opposition party Candlelight urged the new government to release its party members and other prisoners of conscience, who were allegedly detained on politically motivated charges.

Phalla was sentenced to six years imprisonment … but the Regional Court of Appeal in Tboung Khmum decided to remove the charge …

In a separate case, Phalla was sentenced to five years imprisonment for clearing state forest land, but the Regional Court of Appeal removed that charge ... He was arrested …, according to his lawyer Sam Tithseiha.

“[The Regional] Court of Appeal has rendered a judgment [which] states that I am not guilty,” Phalla told … after his release ...

He plans to continue fighting against the destruction of natural resources and forests despite Ratanakiri provincial court “wrongly” finding him guilty of forest crime.

“I​​​ will continue to help communities protect the environment, especially [illegal] forest land clearing. I will not hesitate,” Phalla said. “I am not afraid anymore as I was innocent when I was imprisoned.”…