Case Story I – Access to Counsel Rights a Wrong and Saves a Family
Sopheap, a farmer and father of five, was accused of murdering his neighbor. He was arrested and repeatedly beaten in prison to extract a confession.
So Bengtharun, the IBJ lawyer who was eventually assigned to his case was able to prove that the physical evidence in Bengtharun’s case was completely fabricated by the police. Witness statements confirmed that Sopheap had been taking care of his sick son on the night when the murder occurred, and therefore had a solid alibi.
The Court eventually acquitted Sopheap of all charges, ruling that there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty.
Without the early intervention from IBJ, it is likely that Sopheap would still be in detention awaiting trial and would have very likely suffered an all-too-common fate: abuse at the hands of the justice system leading to conviction for a crime he did not commit, while his family is left destitute.
Case Story II – Monk Finds that Justice can be Done
Buddhist monks are highly respected in Cambodian society. They live simple, chaste and pure lifestyles that support their spiritual practice.
When Benjamin – the 25 year-old head monk of the pagoda in a small village in Prey Veng province – was falsely accused of rape, he was stunned but also felt tremendous shame and confusion. He was detained for six days in an overcrowded prison cell with 20 other inmates.
The Court eventually assigned IBJ lawyer So Bengtharun to the case. While carefully preparing Benjamin’s defense he successfully applied for bail, and gathered several witness statements unequivocally proving Benjamin’s innocence.
Ultimately, the three judges in the Prey Veng Provincial Court believed Benjamin’s testimony and found him innocent, acquitting him of all charges. It was a huge victory, not only for Benjamin, but also for So Bengtharun, IBJ and the whole village.
Benjamin commented that, like so many Cambodians, he had initially felt hopeless about his case and about the prospect of the court obtaining the truth. However, following intervention by IBJ’s lawyer, he was reassured that justice would ultimately be done.