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New evidence allowed in Sokha trial

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Kem Sokha’s lawyers said the prosecutor had no right to add more evidence. Hean Rangsey

New evidence allowed in Sokha trial

The Appeal Court on Wednesday denied a motion filed by lawyers for Kem Sokha against the court accepting evidence added to the case by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor. The judge said all parties could put forward more evidence during a hearing.

The decision was made by presiding judge Seng Sivatha in the presence of Prosecutor General Im Sophan. He said that after listening to arguments from lawyers on both sides, the motion by Sokha’s attorneys would not be accepted and a new trial would not take place.

“All parties [can] file new evidence. The remarks by the lawyers for the defendant, Kem Sokha, are not correct. Please look into the spirit of Article 321 of the Criminal Code.

“Evidence can be filed at any time if the [Appeal] Court finds it useful to find the truth. The prosecutor is the plaintiff and works for the common good of society. He can file evidence to find the truth,” the judge said.

The complaint stemmed from the March 11 trial. At that time, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge decided to accept three-pages of evidence that was added by the prosecutor. Lawyers for Sokha argued that the prosecutor could not put forward more evidence.

The arguments were repeated on Wednesday. Before concluding, one of Sokha’s lawyers, Meng Sopheary, said: “If the prosecutor can put forward more evidence, there is no need for the investigating judge. If the evidence is accepted, what will the future hold?

Sokha’s other lawyer Chan Chen said the prosecutor had no right to add more evidence and in his observation there has never been such a case before.

But government lawyers said the court had decided to accept the evidence and argued that according to the principle of equality, all parties could put up new evidence.

“Those who filed evidence for the first time are the lawyers for the accused party. According to the law, evidence has to be checked by all parties and then the trial chamber president decides to accept it or not.

“The accused party put forward evidence three times and the judge accepted it. At that time, why it is not said that the judge is wrong,” said Ky Tech, a civil party lawyer representing the government.

Speaking following the hearing, Sopheary said the decision of the judge is unacceptable and the lawyers would discuss whether to file an appeal to the Supreme Court.

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