On the eve of the second anniversary of Kem Sokha’s arrest, a lawyer for the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party has repeated calls for his client’s treason charge to be dropped.
In a statement to the media on Sunday, lawyer Chan Chen said Sokha’s legal team had appealed to the court on numerous occasions to have their client’s case dismissed.
He said enough time had been spent investigating the case and it should be closed.
Sokha was arrested on the night of September 2, 2017,at his house in the capital’s Tuol Kork district. He has been charged with “conspiring with a foreign power” and faces between 15 and 30 years in prison if found guilty.
A year after having been placed in pre-trial detention, Sokha was released on bail last September under court supervision, which analysts claim to be a form of de facto house arrest.
“His health requires a medical specialist. His health problem has not been checked on or treated. The authorities know about the situation regarding his health and the prescriptions he needs from the specialist.
“His freedom has been restricted as stated in the decision of the investigating judge. Even his family and his wife have been followed in an attempt to intimidate them,” Chen claimed.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chin Malin said on Sunday that Sokha’s lawyers can request the charge be dropped at any time, but the request must come with a valid argument and compelling evidence.
“If Sokha’s lawyers lodge requests without convincing evidence to lift the burden from their client, there will be no impact on the court’s decision.
“Secondly, the surveillance of Kem Sokha’s activities was part of his bail conditions as he is under investigation. He was not granted bail to do whatever he wants,” Malin said.
He said the supervision of the court was also to ensure Sokha’s safety and that of other relevant people.
Sokha could request the investigating judge to check on his health, which the investigating judge would have to consider, Malin said.