The Court of Appeal on Thursday denied bail for Candlelight Party vice president Thach Setha, who asked to be released due to a heart condition.
Setha was arrested on January 16 for allegedly issuing five bad checks in 2019 and having failed to show up for court questioning in 2021.
Appeal Court spokesperson, Plang Samang, confirmed that presiding judge Khun Leang Meng rejected bail.
“The court chamber has decided to uphold the detention warrant that rejects the defendant for releasing him on bail,” he said.
“The reason, first, is to prevent any new offense from happening. Second, to ensure the accused person doesn’t pressure the civil party plaintiff. And third, to ensure the defendant shows up at court for a trial in the near future,” Samnang said.
Defense lawyer Choung Choungy, said he was disappointed by the bail rejection, noting that Setha suffered a serious health condition and they had offered significant bail to the court.
“We have requested to keep $30,000 to guarantee his bail but they [court] have refused to receive money and release him,” he said.
“I think it is not right,” Choungy said.
The case dates back to an $18,000 loan Setha received in 2016 from Rin Chhay pawnshop collateralized with land titles to his own property. A lawyer for the pawnshop claimed a number of the checks he issued were fraudulent because he did not have sufficient funds in his account, a claim Setha’s team denies noting the checks were appropriately collateralized and settled in an earlier court case.
Kim Souphearith, spokesperson for the opposition Candlelight Party, said the bail refusal was politically motivated and aimed at keeping Setha detained ahead of the July elections.
“We can say that the issue has been characterized as a political issue because Thach Setha is one of the leaders of the Candlelight Party,” he said.
“We are very disappointed, and we will try our best to ensure his freedom and he can contest the election,” Souphearith said.
He said that if that case was solely about the financial claims, the court would have accepted an agreement offered by the party to pay the plaintiff back, as well as the $30,000 in bail.