Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha visits grieving PM, treason trial to continue

Sokha visits grieving PM, treason trial to continue

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former CNRP president Kem Sokha (right) offers his condolences at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh residence. Facebook

Sokha visits grieving PM, treason trial to continue

Despite their political differences, former opposition leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy have offered their condolences to Prime Minister Hun Sen over the death of his mother-in-law.

On Tuesday, Sokha visited Hun Sen at his residence in Phnom Penh to pay his last respects to Bun Seangly, who passed away on Monday at 96.

Their meeting marked the first time in four years since the two met. He was arrested for “treason” in September 2017 and the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by the Supreme Court later that year.

Sokha’s former cabinet chief Muth Chantha, who escorted him to the funeral, said the visit was a show of compassion and unity in difficult times.

“Sokha shared his deepest condolences to Hun Sen for the loss of his beloved mother-in-law. They talked for around 50 minutes about national interests,” he said.

Meng Sopheary, one of Sokha’s four defence lawyers who also accompanied him to the funeral, declined to elaborate on the pair’s discussion.

“Attending a funeral is a tradition in our Khmer culture. Anyone can attend to express condolence and share sorrow,” she said.

Rainsy, who is currently living in France in self-imposed exile to avoid a slew of legal cases against him in the Kingdom, also sent his condolences.

In his letter, he recalled a time when the prime minister made a phone call to his wife Tioulong Saumura in November 2016 to express condolence over the death of her mother. Hun Sen sent his son Hun Many to the funeral.

“No matter how different our political positions are, the sorrow caused by the death of our loved ones can happen to us at any time,” he wrote.

Rainsy told The Post that his letter of condolence to Hun Sen was a “reciprocal courtesy”.

Government spokesperson Phay Siphan said on Wednesday the sharing of condolences is a good gesture in Khmer culture, which he said is separate from Sokha’s legal case.

“Justice and good gesture are two different things. Having good manners is part of our Cambodian culture, and justice is part of the courts’ affairs. I think both cannot be mixed,” he said.

Sokha has also donated $5,000 to the government in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Political analyst Em Sovannara said Sokha’s condolence visit was a positive sign of relations between the former political rivals, though he said it was too early to say if it holds sway on his ongoing treason trial.

“We don’t see any real progress yet. His trial is quietly proceeding and no charge has been dropped,” he said.

Sokha is accused of conspiring with a foreign power to topple the government and faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty. His trial has been delayed by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But on Wednesday next week, the Appeal Court will hear his lawyers’ arguments against the lower court’s decision to accept new evidence submitted by the prosecution in the treason trial.

Appeal Court spokesperson Touch Tharith confirmed the date but declined to provide details.

Sokha’s lawyer Sopheary said without elaborating that the lower court’s acceptance of new evidence submitted by the prosecution violated legal procedures.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four