Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha gets official warning for engagement in politics

Sokha gets official warning for engagement in politics

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kem Sokha (centre) meets with supporters at his house in the capital’s Tuol Kork district on June 27. FB

Sokha gets official warning for engagement in politics

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on June 29 issued a warning against former opposition leader Kem Sokha – but stopped short of detaining him – for engaging in politics in violation of the Supreme Court-imposed five-year political ban following the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017.

At the 46th hearing of his treason trial, the prosecutor claimed that former CNRP president Sokha had met with supporters recently. But his defence team maintained that Sokha was merely meeting ordinary members of the public.

Pheng Heng, Sokha’s co-defence lawyer, told reporters that after a 20-minute hearing, the trial chamber declined the prosecutor’s request to return Sokha to prison for breaching the Supreme Court order.

Heng claimed that these actions were not violations of the court order. Sokha had worshipped with monks and met with groups of four to 20 former party activists who happened to be his friends. Often he had eaten at their homes, just as friends do.

Heng added that Sokha knows he has no right to engage in politics and made it clear to his supporters and the general public that he could join them only for rituals and social activities. This was the likely reason for the court’s decision to deny the prosecutor’s request, he said.

“At the same time, the court issued a warning to my client that he was not to engage in activities that breached the court order. They also asked that the warning be noted by the court clerk in the record of the hearing. The court did conclude that some of his meetings had the appearance of political activities, and may well have been,” he said.

Pheng said although he felt the court’s decision to issue a warning was unsatisfactory, he and his co-lawyers would respect it.

Yi Soksan, an official from human rights group ADHOC, told reporters on June 29 that he believed this was the first time the court had warned Sokha, or suggested that he had breached court orders.

“The presiding judge decided that Kem Sokha’s actions were political, but the decision seemed too harsh, and left no time for his defence to study the case,” he said.

Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal confirmed to The Post on June 29 that the court had decided to warn Sokha instead of detaining him. The court’s clerk recorded an official warning to Sokha, telling him he could not attend future gatherings of his supporters.

“The court will not allow such activities to continue. If he keeps breaching court orders, further action will be taken,” he said.


  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Famed US collector family return artefacts to Cambodia

    In the latest repatriation of ancient artefacts from the US, a total of 33 pieces of Khmer cultural heritage will soon return home, according to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. In a September 12 press statement, it said the US Attorney’s Office for the

  • Tina rebuffs ‘false claims’ over falling paddy price

    Agriculture minister Dith Tina has shed light on the trade of paddy rice in Battambang – Cambodia’s leading rice-producing province – in a bid to curb what he dubs a “social media fact distortion campaign” to destabilise the market. While acknowledging that the prices of paddy

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • Kampot curfew imposed to curb ‘gang’ violence

    Kampot provincial police have announced measures to contain a recent spike in antisocial behaviour by “unruly’ youth. Officials say the province has been plagued by recent violence among so-called “gang members”, who often fight with weapons such as knives and machetes. Several social observers have

  • PM outlines plans to discuss trade, policy during US visit

    Prime Minister Hun Manet is set to meet with senior US officials and business leaders during his upcoming visit to the US for the UN General Assembly (UNGA), scheduled for September 20. While addressing nearly 20,000 workers in Kampong Speu province, Manet said he aims to affirm