Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha questioned on family’s private lives

Sokha questioned on family’s private lives

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Opposition leader Kem Sokha is escorted by police following his midnight arrest in Phnom Penh early Sunday morning. AFP

Sokha questioned on family’s private lives

Jailed former opposition leader Kem Sokha was questioned by a judge in prison yesterday, according to his lawyers, who classified the questioning as “aggressive” and “inappropriate”.

Kem Sokha was arrested in early September and later charged with “treason” based on a 2013 video in which he talks about receiving assistance from the United States in political planning. Following this, his Cambodia National Rescue Party – the only viable competitor to the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party – was dissolved by the Supreme Court last month over government accusations that it was fomenting a foreign-backed “colour revolution”, and more than 100 senior CNRP officials were banned from politics for five years.

Ky Rithy, Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge, interrogated Sokha for the second time at Trapeang Plong Prison, near the Vietnamese border in Tbong Khmum province.

Lawyer Pheng Heng said the judge asked inappropriate questions about the politician’s family’s private life.

“There was a question asking when his daughter started being involved with a foreigner. And when will she get married? It is their privacy and it is not appropriate … It should not be asked in this case,” he said.

The anonymous Facebook account “Kon Khmer” in August began circulating unsubstantiated conspiracy theories – many of them republished by government mouthpiece Fresh News – featuring photos of the family with foreigners. It also accused Sokha’s daughters, Kem Monovithya and Kem Samathida, of colluding with US spies.

The post said that Monovithya was dating US Embassy official Sam Downing, whom it claimed was a CIA agent, and that Samathida had a “close relationship” with alleged “spy” Geoffrey Cain. Cain, who is actually a successful American freelance journalist, again categorically denied allegations yesterday.

“I’m not a spy. That is a fabricated allegation to build fake evidence against the opposition party,” he said. The allegations against him were among the purported evidence cited in the Supreme Court’s CNRP dissolution hearing.

The investigating judge’s line of questioning, Cain said, “shows the court is desperate to get Kem Sokha convicted”.

Monovithya agreed yesterday. “It is harassment,” she said.

Lawyer Heng also accused the judge of only asking questions designed to incriminate, instead of also considering possible exculpatory evidence, as is the norm in civil law systems.

Heng added that Sokha continued to reject all allegations.

Judge Rithy could not be reached yesterday, but Justice Ministry spokesperson Chhin Malin said the judge’s questioning was part of a strategy. “All the questions are according to scientific and physchological technique,” he said.

Another lawyer for Sokha, Chan Chen, said the judge would return to conclude his questioning on Thursday or Friday next week.

MOST VIEWED

  • 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

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this