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

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Show evidence of Chinese military base, critics told

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said he had had enough of certain countries and opposition groups claiming Cambodia had allowed China to base its military in Cambodia and dared critics to show clear evidence. Hun Sen made the remarks while presiding over a groudbreaking

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from