Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha lawyers deny working for Hun Sen

Sokha lawyers deny working for Hun Sen

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kem Sokha’s lawyers pictured last year. Photo supplied

Sokha lawyers deny working for Hun Sen

The legal team of Kem Sokha, the president of the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), on Wednesday complained of being attacked by supporters of Sam Rainsy, his fellow party co-founder.

Sokha’s defence lawyers were this week accused by Facebook users of “working for Hun Sen” after offering their opinion regarding a bet between Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen on the legal fate of their client.

Sokha is on bail awaiting trial for treason, and in November, his fellow CNRP co-founder Rainsy offered Hun Sen a bet that Sokha would have the charge dropped by March 3.

Rainsy proposed that their respective forfeits be that he would return to Cambodia to face court action or the prime minister would step down should either one lose.

He based his prediction on the legal grounds that a person cannot remain charged for longer than 18 months without the case reaching trial under Cambodian law. March 3 will bring that 18-month period to an end.

Sokha has been out on bail under court supervision since September 10 last year.

Three of Sokha’s four defence lawyers on Monday criticised Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved CNRP, for suggesting on Saturday that he would not return to the Kingdom to face legal proceedings, as his forfeit stipulated.

Rainsy currently lives in France to escape a slew of court charges and sentencing.

Meng Sopheary, one of Sokha’s four defence lawyers, said she wasn’t hired by anyone when she posted opinions as to the bet on Facebook. She said she did so due to the “unbearable hurt” she felt after being insulted and discredited by Rainsy’s supporters.

Earlier this week, a Facebook user named Ath Vichet posted Sopheary’s photos with text saying: “Meng Sopheary, Kem Sokha’s lawyer who works for Hun Sen. If he is surrounded by such people, how can President [of the CNRP] Kem Sokha speak?”

Ath Vichet also attacked another of Sokha’s lawyers Phan Chansak saying: “What [he is] doing every day is trying to split Sam Rainsy from Kem Sokha according to the wishes of Hun Sen. So his activities are not only that of a paid lawyer, but a commentator and spokesperson on the CNRP for Hun Sen.”

Sopheary said she had put up with such attacks for a long time now but she had had enough.

“What have I done to [Rainsy supporters]? Everything I wrote did not [attack] Sam Rainsy."

“I targeted all people who have the intention to find a political solution, to have sympathy with people, with Kem Sokha, who was charged and lost freedom in an unjust way. I believe all sides know he is innocent and did not commit any wrongdoing,” she said, requesting Rainsy supporters stop slandering, insulting and smearing Sokha’s lawyers.

Writing on Facebook on Monday, Sopheary questioned why Rainsy had laid the wager. She said Sokha’s lawyers were confident from the beginning that Rainsy would lose the bet, which pushed them to write a letter appealing for its cancellation.

She said if the bet had been abandoned then, Rainsy would have kept his honour and avoided becoming known as a “man who failed to keep his promises”.

“Kem Sokha understands our difficulties and challenges that we as his lawyers face. He told us to be tolerant no matter if we are insulted and unfairly accused, and to continue the mission to defend his case,” she said.

She said if she or the other lawyers representing Sokha acted against their client, he had the right to replace them any time.

“I know where I walk is like a path full of thorns and poisonous creatures. So it is normal that we have to face the thorns and attacks by animals. But we stand firm to go forward,” she said.

Fellow Sokha lawyer Phan Chansak also questioned on Facebook on Wednesday why Rainsy and his supporters had accused him of working for the benefit of Hun Sen.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea