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Defence: Sokha treason trial drags on

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Kem Sokha greets his supporters as he leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 19. Hong Menea

Defence: Sokha treason trial drags on

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 27 continued its questioning of Kem Sokha, former leader of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), on charges of conspiracy with a foreign country to topple the government.

Following the hearing, court spokesman Plang Sophal told The Post that it had focused on two videos, one of which was shot at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh on December 25, 2013, which showed Sokha and former CNRP president Sam Rainsy purportedly expressing their commitment to “re-shaping” the government and the nation.

The other video, also shot at the same park but in February 2014, featured former senior CNRP member Ho Vann speaking about violent demonstrators who had burnt tires and blocked a stretch of National Road 3. Sokha called for people to assist them.

Hun Kosal, a close confidant of Sokha who attended the hearing, told reporters that the prosecutor had tried to provoke a response from Sokha with strongly-worded questions, but Sokha’s defence lawyer had objected and eased the situation.

He said he had seen several videos at these hearings, but they generally concerned the demonstrations at Stung Meanchey in the capital, and not Sokha or the CNRP. The demonstrations were staged by garment workers to demand pay rises. Hearing the same old questions just showed how the trial was being prolonged, he said.

“I also know that Sokha has already answered those questions in detail, but they continued to badger him. Luckily, he is an honest man with integrity and will not be intimidated,” he added.

Kosal said he did not believe that Sokha had committed treason or colluded with a foreign power to topple the government, as he adhered to non-violent principles. The former opposition leader, he added, had sought solutions for the sake of the nation and the people, and the hearing was politically motivated.

ADHOC senior investigator Yi Soksan was of the opinion that the hearing will not be ended easily as it is “politically motivated’. The case should have been addressed through political means rather than judicial, he said.

“As a human rights organisation, we ask that the politicians come to the negotiating table. This is how these kinds of issues have been solved since the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk had mobilised people to sign the Paris Peace Agreements,” he said.

Court spokesman Sophal countered that the hearings were going as planned, although the defence lawyers appeared to be disrupting the process and trying to slow it down.

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