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Sokha defence denies Tech’s claims

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Former Cambodia National Rescue Party president Kem Sokha arrives at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

Sokha defence denies Tech’s claims

ON DAY two of Kem Sokha’s treason trial, lawyers for the government said the defence had raised questions in an attempt to allow their client to make a public statement and a conclusion to the case, something his legal team denied.

Ky Tech, a civil party lawyer representing the government, made the statement on the second day of the trial on Thursday of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president, who is charged with conspiracy with a foreign power.

“The procedure [on Thursday] should allow for the questioning of the accused, but his lawyers raised questions in order for him to have the opportunity to make a statement and make a conclusion on the case.

“We opposed this because their questions violated procedure. It was contradictory to the subject matter at the hearing.

“For some questions, they went back to ask the prosecutor and then asked the civil party lawyers. It violated procedure and deviated from the subject of discussion.

“I want to stress that they raised questions contrary to what is allowed by law, while we stopped them when they said the judges were biased with regards to their rights,” Tech said.

He said the hearing on Thursday was tense due to the questions raised. The public in attendance could wrongly conclude that the rights given to the defence were limited because statements and conclusions should be made at the final stage of the trial, Tech said.

He also clarified his statement on Wednesday regarding nine countries he said were involved in the case.

“These countries were just mentioned in the case. I did not mean that they were involved in Kem Sokha’s alleged crime,” he said.

Sokha lawyer Meng Sopheary rejected Tech’s comments about the questions that had been raised. She said she had asked only a few questions at the hearing, while the civil party lawyers had asked many.

“I asked my client: ‘You said the video that the prosecutor brought as the basis of the accusation and played [on Wednesday’s opening day] was misleading as it had been edited.

“‘Which parts and which words that you think are important were deleted?’ Isn’t it important and correct to ask such a question?” Sopheary said.

The question was rejected by the civil party lawyers, she added.

She also rejected the claim that Sokha had tried to make a political statement at the hearing.

Sopheary said the Thursday hearing touched on Sokha’s activities from 1993 to 2007, particularly the founding of the Cambodia Centre for Human Rights and its financial support from the International Republican Institute.

Sokha defended the legality of his activities during that time, Sopheary said. “I did not bring in any foreigners to do anything affecting national interests,” Sopheary quoted Sokha as saying.

She said as a matter of law, a video clip could not serve as the factual basis for an accusation but could serve as evidence.

“In the hearing, the prosecutor and civil party lawyers said the factual basis was taken from the video as played in court. I would like to make it clear that in a criminal case, factual basis cannot be taken from a video – it must be an actual crime.

“Hearing someone saying something cannot be regarded as a crime,” Sopheary said, adding that “conspiracy with a foreign power” could only be possible only when there was evidence of a deal.

The hearing ended at noon, with the trial to resume next Wednesday and Thursday.

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