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Sokha’s defence team renew appeal for foreign witnesses

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Kem Sokha waving from his car while leaving the municipal court on March 2. Hean Rangsey

Sokha’s defence team renew appeal for foreign witnesses

The defense of former opposition leader Kem Sokha reiterated their plan to send out invitations calling on international witnesses to testify in their client’s case.

Citing reasons for the call, they said that little progress was made in the April 20 treason trial for Sokha, former leader of the Supreme court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

Speaking outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after the hearing, Ang Udom, one of Sokha’s lawyers, said the defence plan to send out letters next week or next month to people in countries – as well as the EU – which Sokha was accused of conspiring with.

“We will do it, although we know that the court will not summon them. We want them to testify to show the truth of whether or not they had conspired with each other as alleged,” Udom said.

He said the defence team had already requested that court summon witness, but the court had claimed it was against the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and urged his team to call upon witness by themselves. Therefore, his team would invite witness, even though the court may not accept them.

He claimed that during the hearing, the court prosecutor had raised about 10 questions related to the 2013 general election, which he saw as a waste of time whose purpose was only to prolong the procedure. He said the prosecutor had also drawn conclusions, despite this not being the right time to do so, according to court procedure.

Reached after the hearing, municipal court spokesman Phlong Sophal said he could not comment as he was busy with a personal issue.

Sokha is accused and charged with conspiring with a foreign power to topple the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen. His hearing began in early 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Political analyst Em Sovannara said that calling foreign witnesses – whether from specific nations or from the EU – to testify was the right thing to do, and should make everything clear.

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