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Sokha prepares for Pchum Benh, despite treason trial woes

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Kem Sokha leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in January. Hong Menea

Sokha prepares for Pchum Benh, despite treason trial woes

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on September 7 questioned former opposition leader Kem Sokha, focusing on two pieces of evidence, the first of which were videos and images of violent demonstrations on Veng Sreng Street in Phnom Penh. The second is video of violent protests on Dragon Bridge near Wat Phnom.

Sokha, former leader of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), is charged with conspiring with foreign powers to overthrow the elected government.

Municipal court spokesman Plang Sophal told The Post after the hearing that the videos discussed during this latest hearing and those shown previously were different and did not overlap.

Yim Sinorn, a close associate of Sokha who attended the hearing, contradicted Phal’s comment, saying the 55th hearing was nothing new. He said the prosecution continued to cross-examine Sokha about the videos’ content.

Sinorn noted that the line of questioning related to the two videos did not correspond to accusations of conspiring with foreign powers. In addition, Sokha has repeatedly stated in court that he was not responsible for any demonstrations held outside of Freedom Park in the capital.

“Regardless of speculation about the footage shown in court, it is unknown who the leaders of the demonstrations were. These protests did not involve Kem Sokha,” he said.

Sokha’s next hearing is scheduled for September 14.

After leaving the courtroom, Sokha took to social media extending his thanks to supporters and noting that he will celebrate the upcoming Pchum Ben Festival.

“I thank the Cambodian people, both inside and outsides of the country, as well as friends from the international community who have called for my release after the injustices of the last five years,” he wrote.

“As a believer in Buddhism, I adhere to the principle of non-violence. As a respecter of Khmer traditions and customs, I try to always do good deeds and be aware of merits and sins. I am grateful to my motherland of Cambodia, my ancestors and relatives. Although I am not completely free, next week I will celebrate the Pchum Ben Festival with my compatriots at several pagodas,” added the post.

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