Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha defence: Treason trial 'political' in nature

Sokha defence: Treason trial 'political' in nature

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kem Sokha leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court after attending a hearing in January. Hong Menea

Sokha defence: Treason trial 'political' in nature

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has resumed with the 44th hearing in the case of former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who was charged with conspiring with a foreign power to overthrow the government.

During the hearing, Sokha, former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said the agreement between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and then-CNRP has laid to rest all of the political issues that occurred during the election aside from the formation of a new National Election Committee (NEC), so there is nothing to accuse him of anymore.

Pheng Heng, Sokha's co-defence lawyer, told The Post by telephone after the June 15 hearing that Sokha had raised the matter of the agreement to show that everything was over in terms of political conflicts after the CPP acknowledged irregularities in the 2013 election on July 22, 2014, at the Senate.

However, according to Heng, the prosecutor said the agreement had no relevance to the trial because it was a political agreement.

Heng said he raised the example by way of explanation at the hearing about the Paris Peace Agreements, the contents of which Cambodia eventually enshrined into law.

"Well, no matter the agreement, the politician can end conflicts through political solutions. This is also a political issue and politics are also involved," Heng said.

Citing Sokha, Heng said the political agreement was important and the law was also important. Sokha, he added, valued politics and institutions so he still saw the way out as being political in nature, with politicians having reconciled and debated and then ending this disagreement and misunderstanding.

Chan Chen, another of Sokha’s lawyers, also said during the hearing that the charge against his client was politically motivated because the allegations were not well-documented and did not meet the legal standards for charging him.

"Half the people in the Kingdom know it is a political issue," Chen said.

Municipal court spokesman and representative for the trial chamber Plang Sophal told The Post on June 15 that he would not provide any further comments on the hearing.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin told The Post on June 15 that Sokha's case was based on existing laws and procedures, while negotiations to end political issues were another matter entirely.

"Regarding the legal issues, he has to face them and be convicted or acquitted according to the law and the court’s procedures and other regulations in force. The principle of the rule of law requires it," Malin said.

The trial will resume on June 22 with its 45th hearing.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’