Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha gets official warning for engagement in politics

Sokha gets official warning for engagement in politics

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kem Sokha (centre) meets with supporters at his house in the capital’s Tuol Kork district on June 27. FB

Sokha gets official warning for engagement in politics

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on June 29 issued a warning against former opposition leader Kem Sokha – but stopped short of detaining him – for engaging in politics in violation of the Supreme Court-imposed five-year political ban following the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017.

At the 46th hearing of his treason trial, the prosecutor claimed that former CNRP president Sokha had met with supporters recently. But his defence team maintained that Sokha was merely meeting ordinary members of the public.

Pheng Heng, Sokha’s co-defence lawyer, told reporters that after a 20-minute hearing, the trial chamber declined the prosecutor’s request to return Sokha to prison for breaching the Supreme Court order.

Heng claimed that these actions were not violations of the court order. Sokha had worshipped with monks and met with groups of four to 20 former party activists who happened to be his friends. Often he had eaten at their homes, just as friends do.

Heng added that Sokha knows he has no right to engage in politics and made it clear to his supporters and the general public that he could join them only for rituals and social activities. This was the likely reason for the court’s decision to deny the prosecutor’s request, he said.

“At the same time, the court issued a warning to my client that he was not to engage in activities that breached the court order. They also asked that the warning be noted by the court clerk in the record of the hearing. The court did conclude that some of his meetings had the appearance of political activities, and may well have been,” he said.

Pheng said although he felt the court’s decision to issue a warning was unsatisfactory, he and his co-lawyers would respect it.

Yi Soksan, an official from human rights group ADHOC, told reporters on June 29 that he believed this was the first time the court had warned Sokha, or suggested that he had breached court orders.

“The presiding judge decided that Kem Sokha’s actions were political, but the decision seemed too harsh, and left no time for his defence to study the case,” he said.

Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal confirmed to The Post on June 29 that the court had decided to warn Sokha instead of detaining him. The court’s clerk recorded an official warning to Sokha, telling him he could not attend future gatherings of his supporters.

“The court will not allow such activities to continue. If he keeps breaching court orders, further action will be taken,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement