Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha treason case to go to trial after probe concludes

Sokha treason case to go to trial after probe concludes

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The investigation into the charge of treason against Kem Sokha, the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, has concluded, with the case sent for trial. Heng Chivoan

Sokha treason case to go to trial after probe concludes

The investigation into the charge of treason against Kem Sokha, the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, has concluded, with the case sent for trial.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court is yet to announce a date for the hearing.

“An investigating judge has concluded that there is sufficient evidence to convict Kem Sokha of ‘conspiracy with a foreign power’. The investigating judge has closed the investigation,” a Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson said in a press release issued on Monday.

It said Sokha’s case had been further sent to trial on Monday after the investigating judge had completed the probe.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Taing Sunlay told The Post that the trial chamber had yet to set a date for the proceedings.

Sokha was arrested in September 2017 and charged under Article 443 of the Criminal Code with “conspiracy with a foreign power”. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if found guilty.

The charge came after Sokha claimed to have received US assistance in planning his political career.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court last month reduced Sokha’s court-supervised bail conditions following his release on bail after spending a year in the Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province. He originally had to remain at his house in the capital’s Tuol Kork district.

The reduced conditions allow him to travel anywhere within the country.

Meng Sopheary, one of Sokha’s team of four lawyers, said she had received information on the case being sent for trial. But she was unaware of a date for the hearing as the court had yet to issue a summons.

She said that because her client was on bail, the time until a trial date is set was not dictated by legal procedure.

“If the charged person is in detention, a trial date is to be set soon so that he is not detained more than procedure allows. But if the person is not being detained, the duration is not limited specifically.

“If there is a trial soon and our client is acquitted, this is good. But if it were to result in punishment, we would not want such a trial,” Sopheary said.

Chan Chen, another of Sokha’s legal team, said as per procedure, lawyers had to be informed 15 days before a trial to ensure that they had sufficient time to prepare their case.

“We will meet with the co-lawyers and the client soon to discuss the case,” he said.

Analysts claimed the latest developments in Sokha’s case could be due to the situation regarding a possible withdrawal of the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement.

“Sokha will be tried by the courts and could then be freed with a royal pardon. After his release, there will be political movement in Cambodia and overseas by Sokha followers.

“[Those banned by the Supreme Court] will try to find a way to come back into politics,” Transparency International Cambodia executive director Preap Kol said.

Sok Touch, the president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, agreed that Sokha could be released after being tried by the courts.

“They are all looking at each other in regards to this case, even though it is being dealt with by the courts. If the EBA is withdrawn, the situation could develop accordingly because it would be a kind of swap. We call this a swap in politics,” Touch said.

MOST VIEWED

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Sokha defence denies Tech’s claims

    ON DAY two of Kem Sokha’s treason trial, lawyers for the government said the defence had raised questions in an attempt to allow their client to make a public statement and a conclusion to the case, something his legal team denied. Ky Tech, a

  • Cambodian general visits Myanmar to enhance national defence cooperation

    Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief Vong Pisen is now in Myanmar leading a delegation that aims to improve ties, particularly in national defence, with the fellow Asean member. The timing of Pisen’s four-day visit to the Southeast Asian neighbour is highly symbolic, with

  • Sokha’s treason trial begins

    The treason trial of Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday with the presentation of a two-minute video clip. The footage, which was the basis of the charge against him, was dismissed by