The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has rejected a travel request by former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who intended to attend a meeting in Germany on March 28-29 at the invitation of the Global Solutions Summit (GSS).
Sokha – former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) who currently stands trial on treason charge – will instead be allowed to attend the GSS meeting online, as he remains under the supervision of an investigating judge.
After a hearing on March 23, Chan Chen, one of Sokha’s defence lawyers, told reporters that GSS had invited his client to be a guest speaker at the intergovernmental forum in the German capital Berlin on March 28-29 to discuss global challenges for the G20 and G7 countries.
He said the GSS’s secretary-general invited Sokha because the world saw him as a political figure that adhered to the principles of non-violence and peaceful resolution to national issues.
His lawyers applied for an adjournment of his court supervision to give him the opportunity to travel to Berlin for the meeting, but the application was rejected.
Sokha was invited to give a lecture and meet with small groups to discuss ongoing violence in the world – and specifically Ukraine – and to search for universal ideas and perspectives that could solve such issues. It would benefit Cambodia, both politically and economically, Chen said.
He expressed frustration with the court for not allowing Sokha to travel to Berlin to discuss global challenges.
“We are very sorry because we believe the presence of Kem Sokha at the meeting in Berlin would benefit first the world – and second Cambodia. The rejection is really disappointing,” he said.
Court spokesman Plang Sophal confirmed to The Post that the council had rejected the request.
The hearing will resume on the morning of March 30.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said that from a legal point of view, individuals under court supervision could not be permitted to leave Cambodia.
“The court’s refusal to allow Sokha to travel to Germany is legally correct, though this case seems to be dragging on too long. It has made some people think his case is turning into a political one rather than a criminal one and confuses the public. The court should speed up proceedings,” he told The Post.