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Sokha’s defence: We may request foreign-witness trial testimony

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Kem Sokha waves to supporters as he leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after attending his hearing on March 16. Hong Menea

Sokha’s defence: We may request foreign-witness trial testimony

The defence team of former opposition leader Khem Sokha, who stands trial on treason charge, is considering requesting the Phnom Penh Municipal Court trial chamber to summon witnesses from the US, EU, Germany, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), among others.

Pheng Heng, one of Sokha’s defence lawyers, said that after the March 30 hearing, where some witnesses had already testified, his team may request that the court summon more witnesses. The witnesses would be individuals whom civil party lawyers had accused of involvement in Sokha’s “conspiracy with a foreign power” to topple the government, he said.

“We will discuss whether we should request additional witnesses that will expose the truth about these allegations,” he added.

According to Heng, during the March 30 hearing, the court asked questions relating to events that took place before the 2013 general election, such as the formation of Sokha’s Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). His defence team had objected to this line of questioning, saying it was ground that had already been covered and only slowed the trial process down.

“We blocked the questions that have already been asked so as not to waste time. We want proceedings to move quickly so we can find justice for our client,” he said.

He said the trial chamber also viewed five video clips about the policies of the CNRP and the party’s formation.

When asked whether the trial might reach a conclusion anytime soon, Heng said: “This is the last procedure the court has set, but if we look at the case, there are many more people involved.

“The defence team cannot say with any certainty whether it will come to an end soon, or whether it will drag on. It depends on how many more questions need to be asked and answered. It also depends on how many more witnesses may be summoned.”

Municipal court spokesman Phlong Sophal said the trial will resume on April 6.

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