Kong Korm, a former adviser to the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday that opposition figure Sam Rainsy “knew everything” regarding Kem Sokha’s ongoing treason case.
Korm was addressing Investigating Judge Ky Rithy, having been called as a witness in the case of Sokha, the president of the former CNRP, who was arrested in September 2017 for treason after he had previously claimed to have received advice from foreigners in planning his political career.
Korm, who along with his son Bora became the first of 118 banned senior CNRP officials to have his political rights returned after rehabilitation by King Norodom Sihamoni earlier this month, told reporters on leaving court that he had been questioned for three hours by Rithy.
He said the investigating judge questioned him on Wednesday morning on the relationship between Sokha and Rainsy, and their activities regarding the charge of collusion with foreigners in an attempt to overthrow the government.
He was also asked about the activities of Sokha’s Human Rights Party and its merger with the Sam Rainsy Party to form the CNRP.
Korm became the tenth witness to be called in the case so far.
“I was an adviser [to the CNRP] . . . [but] I do not know much, only Sam Rainsy knows everything."
“It is true to say that Sam Rainsy knows everything, but the person who knows less could have information [useful] for the judge and the person who knows more will also have information for the judge. It is part of the goal of seeking justice for the accused."
“I swear that I told what I know. I did not exaggerate or distort anything. I am a witness who just told the court [what I know] so it has enough information to render justice for the accused,” he said.
He said he did not know that Sokha had a connection with foreigners, and he claimed that the merger of the Human Rights Party and the Sam Rainsy Party to form the CNRP was done to unify the opposition to compete in the 2013 national elections “with transparency and justice and to bring positive impacts for Cambodia”.
Korm said he told the judge that he was surprised with the emergence of the video clip of Sokha talking of being helped by US officials.
“Therefore, I think that everything depends on Kem Sokha himself. I am just surprised with the video clip, with his voice, saying that he worked with foreigners to make a change for Cambodia."
“I just know that the Human Rights Party and the Sam Rainsy Party merged to create CNRP in order to gain force to compete with the ruling [Cambodian People’s Party],” he said.
Investigating Judge Rithy and court spokesman Suos Vithearandy could not be reached for comment by The Post on Wednesday.
“I have seen nothing unusual so far in [Sokha’s] case as the investigating judge is continuing his procedures,” said Chan Chen, one of Sokha’s four defence lawyers.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court previously called Sia Phearum, the former executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force and Meas Kimseng, the coordinator for local housing rights NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut as witnesses in the Sokha treason case.
Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) and Pa Nguon Teang, the president of the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media (CCIM) have also been summoned.
Also called to give evidence in the case were Koeun Virat; Heng Pisith; Keo Ratana, former CNRP youth activist; Vorn Pov, the president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA); and Sar Sorn, a Borei Keila community land activist.
Sokha was arrested at midnight on September 3, 2017. He was charged with treason based on Article 443 of the Criminal Code. He is facing between 15 and 30 years in prison if found guilty.
The 2013 video clip showed him addressing followers in Australia and claiming to have received advice from the US in planning his political career.
The CNRP of which Sokha was president, was dissolved by the Supreme Court on November 16, 2017, more than two months after he was charged.
He was initially held in Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province but was released under court-supervised bail on September 10 last year to his home in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court has rejected three requests from his legal team to have the treason charge dropped.