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Sokha trial continues ad infinitum, says lawyer

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Former CNRP leader Kem Sokha leaving the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after attending a hearing in March. Hong Menea

Sokha trial continues ad infinitum, says lawyer

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 20 continued its questioning of Kem Sokha, former leader of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP,) on charges of conspiracy with a foreign country to topple the Cambodian government.

Following the trial, the prosecutor’s office spokesman Plang Sophal told The Post that the hearing was focused on video footage taken at Freedom Park in December 2014, when Sokha called on workers, civil servants, members of the armed forces and farmers to participate in a demonstration.

Sophal said the hearing was conducted in the same fashion as any other criminal cases, and he had seen nothing to support the claims of some civil society organisations and individuals who alleged that the case was politically motivated.

“I have no response to those comments – perhaps they were attending a court hearing for the first time,” he said.

Pheng Heng, one of Sokha’s defence lawyers, said the hearing was reminiscent of previous ones. It had not made much progress because the prosecution had simply played a video of Sokha addressing the demonstrators.

He added that Sokha had been asked about his use of the word “change” in the video, but that in general the prosecution had spent more time making comments and offering their own conclusions than questioning Sokha.

“What questions were asked were mostly about ‘change’ and one or two other points. Sokha explained that most of the things he said were simply the rhetoric of a politician speaking off the cuff,” he said.

Heng added that the prosecutor had not charged Sokha with causing a melee or actually toppling the government, but continued to quote speeches which seemed to allege these things.

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