Kem Sokha, the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said during Wednesday’s trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court that a two-minute video, which was presented as evidence to accuse him of treason, does not reflect his will.
Sokha’s treason trial reached day three on Wednesday after it kicked off last week.
“The video clip that the prosecutor and civil party lawyer used to accuse me does not reflect the goal and intent that I wanted to express in late 2013, in Australia. That clip was cut short and was taken out of context,” he said.
Sokha said he established the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) in 2002 and had conducted public forums about human rights until 2007, during which he educated the people about human rights and democracy.
These forums, he said, were attended by members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and government officials.
He noted that the CCHR was a legal institution that received assistance from the US through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and had always provided assistance to the government.
Though he created the Human Rights Party in 2007, Sokha said he had no intention of changing government leadership through violence.
“You can ask Samdech Hun Sen why the Human Rights Party was formed. I did not want to incite change through bloodshed. The merge which formed the CNRP was made in order to create opposition without resorting to violence.
“I told my activists that the proper way of fostering change is through elections, not a revolution. The protest in 2013 was done to demand the creation of an election committee that would investigate the results of the election, not to topple the government,” he said.
Government lawyer Ky Tech said during the trial that Sokha seemed to be given too much freedom to speak at the hearing, even more than the time his team had.
Sokha’s lawyers, said Tech, kept putting forward new evidence which would lengthen the trial. But the more evidence they presented, the heavier the burden they placed on Sokha, he said.
One of Sokha’s lawyers, Pheng Heng, said the evidence his legal team presented in court was the full original video recording of what he said in Australia.
“In fact, it was only one video but we cut it down to shorter clips to make it easier for the court to understand. Some of the clips highlighted Sokha’s activities from 1993 to 2007. We have Sokha’s video from when he was the CCHR director.
“During the congress at the Olympic Stadium, he was the president of the Human Rights Party and the CNRP. He told political activists to use the platform to deliver political speeches that would reflect the party’s principles,” said Heng.
The clips, he said, meant to show Sokha’s honesty and his pro-democratic and non-violent activities.
Meng Sopheary, another of Sokha’s lawyers, said her client’s words in the video were not treasonous.
She countered that the prosecutor must find concrete evidence that Sokha signed an agreement with a foreign country to incite the Kingdom’s invasion.
In response, Tech said his team also had three other bagsful of such documents, which will be presented to the court as further evidence when needed.
The president of the Trial Chamber allowed the video to be shown for more than an hour. The defence presented a two-minute video as evidence against the charge but the prosecution’s position is that it was evidence of treason.