The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has agreed to temporarily suspend the court case involving Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha, who is accused of conspiring with a foreign power to topple the government, due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
Presiding Judge Koy Sao on Tuesday decided to delay the trial after requests from lawyers on both sides. Judge Sao said: “I comply with the request to delay the trial until further notice.”
A request letter from government lawyers said: “The current global pandemic and the increasing outbreak of Covid-19 in Cambodia means it is not appropriate to continue the court case at this time. The Royal Government and other countries in the world are standing united to combat the pandemic.
“They have banned the people from gathering in large numbers and have advised keeping a 1.5m distance from one another.
“Therefore, given the layout of the courts, it is not possible to keep to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health.
“So to avoid infections and to not affect the interests of our clients, please understand and forgive us for requesting that the trial be moved to a later date.”
The request letter from Sokha’s lawyers cited similar reasons.
The trial started several weeks ago on January 15, 2020. It was last heard in court on March 12.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Sokha thanked the people for contributing $5,000 to combat Covid-19.
The post said: “This morning, I gave the money to the National Committee for Combating Covid-19. I thank everyone for their contributions, showing sympathy and supporting Khmer people in times of emergency even though our brothers and sisters are running into their respective difficulties right now.”
On Tuesday, Sokha also posted on his Facebook page, urging people to commend the police for their efforts during these uncertain times, and for putting their lives on the line to fulfil their duties.
He said: “Please don’t distort the facts, do not fabricate news and don’t hide the truth. Please don’t have your judgement clouded by political tendency and don’t discriminate against each other whatsoever during these difficult times.”