Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha trial calls witnesses, next hearing may extend to full day

Sokha trial calls witnesses, next hearing may extend to full day

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kem Sokha greets his supporters as he leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on October 05. Heng Chivoan

Sokha trial calls witnesses, next hearing may extend to full day

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on October 5 questioned Kong Korm, a former senior adviser to the now-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), as a witness in Kem Sokha’s treason trial.

Korm was among five other witnesses who testified at the hearing against the former CNRP leader, who has been charged with conspiring with foreign powers to overthrow the government.

They included Chak Sopheap, who is currently executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), and Chhim Phalvarun – a former CCHR staff member back when Sokha founded and led the organisation before forming the then Human Rights Party (HRP) – who is now a senior government official. The three others are former CNRP officials.

Municipal court spokesman Plang Sophal told The Post that only Korm was questioned due to time constraint, adding that the hearing would resume next week.

Korm – who has now been made a “supreme adviser” to the Candlelight Party (CP) following a merger between the CP and the Khmer Will Party (KWP), where he served as honorary president – told The Post that the court questioned him about his political background, the CNRP’s involvement with several US NGOs and also about the merger between the long-defunct Sam Rainsy Party and the HRP.

He said he was also asked about demonstrations held in Freedom Park in Phnom Penh after the 2013 general election.

“This morning’s hearing was prolonged, and the participants seemed tired. The trial chamber was prepared to continue in the afternoon, but the plaintiffs’ lawyers were unavailable. This means the hearing is delayed until October 12,” he said.

Korm added that he is willing to continue to appear as a witness if summoned by the court, provided his health and schedule allows it.

Hun Kosal, a close acquaintance of Sokha, told reporters that Korm’s answers at the hearing seemed confusing and his memories did not seem clear, and that his answers were not in line with the CNRP’s principles.

Yi Soksan, an official at rights group ADHOC who was present at the hearing, agreed that Korm’s answers seemed unclear, noting that many questions were repeated.

“The court summoned six witnesses to testify, but still spent time questioning the accused. It did not seem like the court valued the witnesses’ time,” he said.

Sopheap of the CCHR said she waited from 8am until noon in the witness room but was never called to the stand.

“I sacrificed my time and cancelled an overseas mission for nothing. The court should have carried proceedings over to the afternoon so as not to waste the witnesses’ time,” she said.

Court spokesman Sophal explained that one of the government lawyers had a prior engagement, hinting that questioning may continue into the afternoon at next week’s hearing should more time be required.


  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • PM urges end to ‘baseless’ international Ream base accusations

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urges an end to “baseless” foreign accusations surrounding the development of the Kingdom’s Ream Naval Base, as the US has consistently suggested that the base is being expanded to accommodate a Chinese military presence. Hun Sen renewed his calls while

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.