Former opposition leader Kem Sokha has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for “conspiring with foreign powers to overthrow the government”. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court delivered the much-anticipated verdict on the morning of March 3.

Sokha, former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was arrested in September 2017 at his residence in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district. He was then placed in pre-trial detention at Trapeang Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province for more than a year before his release on bail.

His first trial commenced in January 2020, but the proceedings had been postponed many times with Covid-19 concerns cited for the delays.

At the 56th hearing on March 3, 2023, the municipal court sentenced Sokha to 27 years under articles 439 and 443 of the Criminal Code and barred him from politics and elections under Article 450.

He was not immediately sent to prison but confined to his home under court supervision.

According to the court’s March 3 statement, Sokha is barred from leaving his residence in Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak II commune, and from having contact with any Cambodian or foreign national by any means aside from his family members – unless granted permission by the prosecutor.