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Sokha trial continues at slower pace

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Kem Sokha greets his supporters as he leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on October 05. Heng Chivoan

Sokha trial continues at slower pace

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on October 12 continued with Kem Sokha's trial on charges of treason, hearing witness testimony as the former leader of the now-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) stands accused of conspiring with foreign powers to topple the government.

Municipal court spokesman Plang Sophal told The Post that Sokha's trial is now in the witness testimony phase and the proceedings mostly involve the questioning of witnesses by both the prosecution and Sokha's defence team.

“There were several witnesses this morning and this afternoon we heard statements from three more witnesses. We will continue with questions for them in the morning tomorrow [October 13],” he said.

Chak Sopheap, currently executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), said six witnesses were present in the courtroom – three from Phnom Penh and others from Preah Sihanouk province.

Yim Sinan, one of Sokha’s close associates, said the questioning of the witnesses seemed lengthy because the prosecutors were trying to “waste time”.

He suggested that the judge do more preparation of procedures for witness questioning.

“The judge and the lawyers for the plaintiff both asked about relations between Chhim Phal Vorun and the CCHR run by Kem Sokha when it was first established, and about their interactions with foreigners," he said.

Phal Vorun was formerly a member of the CCHR – founded by Sokha – and currently a senior government official.

Sinan added that the court summoning all of these witnesses at the same time did not benefit or assist the accused, noting that the prosecutor had also questioned a woman who studied at the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) in Indonesia a few years ago about a colour revolution, though it was totally irrelevant.

In the afternoon, the court continued to question more witnesses, and Ma Chetra, a witness called by the prosecution, voiced the group's apparent displeasure.

“Today I appeared in court as summoned for a second time and again I was not questioned because there are several witnesses and there isn't enough time. Hence, as a witness, I will have to appear in court once again tomorrow morning,” he said.

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