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.

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’