The Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecution has requested that the lawyers for former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for “treason”, file a written request if they want to meet with their client.
The prosecution noted however that the lawyers can make an oral request for faster review and approval in an “emergency”.
On March 14, one of the lawyers for Sokha – former president of the long-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) – went to meet him at his residence in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district to discuss the verdict and prepare an appeal, but was stopped by security forces guarding the house and prevented from consulting with him.
The legal team then issued a statement that same day on the “violation of Kem Sokha’s right to legal assistance”, claiming that hindering him from seeking legal advice infringed on his rights and prevented the attorneys from being able to fulfil their duties and obligations to their client.
The municipal court on March 15 issued a statement noting that they had not received any requests from the defence to meet with Sokha, and that their statement issued the previous day was “contrary to reality and misleading to the public”.
Citing the March 3 criminal verdict, the court stressed that Sokha has been placed under judicial supervision and barred from leaving his residence and from meeting anyone, whether Khmer or foreign – apart from his family members – in-person or by electronic means without the prosecutor’s explicit permission.
Sokha’s defence team, it added, should review the verdict carefully and follow its directives.
The attorneys – Chan Chen, Ang Udom, Pheng Heng and Meng Sopheary – could not be reached for comment on March 16.