Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kem Sokha’s defence describes ‘tense atmosphere’at treason trial

Kem Sokha’s defence describes ‘tense atmosphere’at treason trial

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former opposition leader Kem Sokha greets his supporters as he leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 25. Hong Menea

Kem Sokha’s defence describes ‘tense atmosphere’at treason trial

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court held another hearing in the treason trial of Kem Sokha, former leader of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), with his defence team again protesting their client’s innocence.

Following the June 1 hearing, Chan Chen, one of Sokha’s defence lawyers, told reporters that the atmosphere at the 42nd hearing was tense. The prosecutor had asked his client a number of questions, and he had answered them. The questions were related to the charge of conspiring with foreign powers to topple the government.

Chen said his co-defence lawyers Meng Sopheary and Pheng Heng had posed questions of their own to the prosecutor in an attempt to substantiate the charge.

“They asked him to identify the foreign powers they believe he was conspiring with, and sought to establish whether they knew of some agreement he had made to do so. In my opinion, no foreign agency – or state – tried to conspire with my client,” he said.

Chen added that the prosecutor pursued questions about Sokha’s past actions, but the former opposition leader was not interested in discussing them. He explained that after the 2013 general election, an agreement had been made which ended all pre-election issues. Regardless, all of his past actions were legal, and done within the legal framework of the time, he added.

“As far as I see it, we heard questions at this hearing, but heard very few facts. Short, heavily edited video clips were played, but the complete unedited hour-long videos clearly show that our client is not guilty of the charge,” he added.

Municipal spokesman Plang Sophal told The Post that it was normal for questions to be exchanged. He said hearings often grew very tense while the prosecutor was asking questions about offences or introducing evidence which established that the offence took place.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the case seemed to have become drawn-out, which could mislead those members of public who could not distinguish between a criminal case and a political one.

He suggested the court speed up the case, lest it become a political trap.

The next hearing is scheduled for June 8.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’