The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation rebuffs claims by "Western" diplomats that the March 3 guilty verdict handed down to former opposition leader Kem Sokha for treason was a "miscarriage of justice".
In a statement, the ministry said the 56 hearings for Sokha -- former president of the long-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) who has been sentenced to 27 years in prison and barred from politics on charges of conspiracy with foreign powers to topple the government -- proceeded in a transparent manner with "close observance" by representative of the media, civil society organisations and foreign embassies.
The ministry said claims by Western diplomats, whom it did not name, that Sokha's trial was built on a "fabricated conspiracy" was "prejudiced and hypocritical".
"Foreign conspiracy is [a crime] explicitly stipulated in articles 439 and 443 of Cambodia's Penal Code. Western countries also take foreign interference seriously with abundant instances of politicians being [indicted] for such a heinous crime.
"An attack on the judiciary of other countries, including the International Criminal Court, by certain Western governments is not unprecedented," it said.
The ministry added that diplomats' "arbitrary extension" of their role to an "extraterritorial invigilator" of the host nation's judicial system runs counter to the UN Charter and the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
The ministry said that despite the absence of a "few law-breaking" politicians, the upcoming July general election will proceed in a "free, fair, just and transparent manner that reflects the will of the people.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court delivered its highly-anticipated guilty verdict against Sokha at his 56th hearing on March 3, sentencing him to 27 years in prison under articles 439 and 443 of the Criminal Code and depriving him of political rights under Article 450.
He was not immediately sent to prison but confined to his home under court supervision.
According to the court’s March 3 statement, Sokha is barred from leaving his residence in Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak II commune, and from having contact with any Cambodian or foreign national by any means aside from his family members – unless granted permission by the prosecutor.