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Kem Sokha to appear in court

HUMAN Rights Party leader Kem Sokha is set to appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court today for questioning in connection with a complaint filed in 2006 alleging breach of trust and the use of false documents during his tenure as president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

The opposition parliamentarian expressed puzzlement at the court’s sudden interest in a case that had lain dormant for years.

“I am not afraid because I have not done anything wrong,” Kem Sokha said yesterday. “It is strange that they filed a complaint [in 2006] and there has been no action taken since”.

The court originally summoned Kem Sokha for questioning on September 30, the same day it had received a fresh complaint from plaintiff Chhim Phalvorn, but the HRP president was travelling in the United States and unable to attend.

“The court has never been working so quickly like this,” Kem Sokha said. “If the court worked quickly like this, there would not be much work remaining.”

Chhim Phalvorn, the plaintiff and a former deputy president of CCHR, cited the need for a detailed investigation in explaining the length of the case.

“Politicians and people find it difficult to believe that Kem Sokha is corrupt, so we need a long time to find the evidence to meet the burden,” he said.

Chhim Phalvorn, now the director of the Institute of Civil Education, has accused Kem Sokha of embezzling thousands of dollars in donor funds and creating false documents to rebut the allegations.

Municipal Court deputy prosecutors Sok Roeun could not be reached for comment yesterday. Breach of trust carries a possible jail term of one to five years.

Kem Sokha was one of several activists arrested and charged with defamation during a government crackdown in 2005; however, he was released from prison and pardoned by King Norodom Sihamoni in 2006.

In September, the Municipal Court summoned Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Chea Poch in a six-year-old defamation case.



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