Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha’s treason trial to resume August 17

Sokha’s treason trial to resume August 17

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Former CNRP leader Kem Sokha leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a hearing on January 25. Hong Menea

Sokha’s treason trial to resume August 17

The 51st hearing of former opposition leader Kem Sokha took place on August 10, with the prosecution continuing to question him regarding his alleged conspiracy with a foreign power in an attempt to topple the government in late 2013.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Plang Sophal told The Post that the latest hearing centred around four videos involving Sokha, former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

One featured footage of former senior CNRP lawmaker Ho Vann and Sokha speaking at Freedom Park and one was of former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy speaking at the same event.

Another was of a December 25, 2013 speech in which Sokha purportedly urged mass demonstrations at the base of the Kizuna Bridge in Kampong Cham province. The final video was of Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, demonstrating in front of the Council of Ministers.

Sophal said these videos confirmed the plans that Sokha spoke about in Melbourne, Australia, in November 2013, adding that the plans were to organise, incite and lead violent demonstrations and block roads across the capital to create conflict.

Hun Kosal, a close friend of Sokha who attended the hearing, told reporters outside the court that the prosecution’s questioning was to Sokha’s benefit, as they supported the view that the trial was politically motivated.

Kosal said all Sokha ever wanted to do was serve the country and the people. There were no actions, on video or otherwise, that would show Sokha betraying the nation or undermining its dignity, he added.

“Sokha’s actions are in line with the Kingdom’s Constitution. I don’t believe that any laws are stronger than the Constitution. I think the prosecution is carrying out political activities in court. I have heard their questions, and they are all political, rather than criminal,” he said.

Yi Soksan, a senior official at rights group ADHOC, also told reporters that Sokha’s hearing was a political one, which could be evidenced by the fact that this was the 51st hearing.

He said the prosecutor’s questions were almost delivered as commentary and were very protracted. He concluded that Sokha seemed very bored during the hearing.

“At this point, I ask the government – as well as the Ministry of Justice – to take steps to end the seemingly endless questioning. If there is no guilt, release him. If there is guilt, take action. Do not draw out this tiring emotional process,” he said.

Sophal said he had no response to comments by observers of the trial. He confirmed that there had been 51 hearings, but that this was in line with the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The next hearing is scheduled for August 17.

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