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Sokha’s defence decries progress in treason trial

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Kem Sokha waving to his supporters when leaving Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a hearing in March. Hong Menea

Sokha’s defence decries progress in treason trial

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on April 6 held another hearing in Kem Sokha’s treason case, with the defence lawyers of the former opposition leader claiming that no progress was being made as the court continued to return to technical aspects of the 2013 National Election.

Speaking to reporters outside the municipal court after the hearing, Pheng Heng, one of Sokha’s defence lawyers, said the prosecutor had asked his client about technical aspects of the election, such as alleged irregularities on the voter lists.

He said Sokha, former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, had responded to the questions by requesting the prosecutor ask the National Election Committee. He could only answer non-technical questions such as those related to the merge of his Human Rights Party and the then-Sam Rainsy Party.

“We note that the case has been sent to trial for conspiracy with a foreign power, but the questions seem to be about technical aspects of the election. Such questions should be for election committee officials, rather than my client,” Heng said.

The defense attorney said such questioning could not lead to any progress but merely prolonged the trial.

Municipal court spokesman Phlong Sophal said the hearing had reached a point where Sokha was asked about the checking of the voter lists in 2013.

He said that as next week is the Khmer New Year holiday, the hearing will resume on April 20.

Political analyst Em Sovannara was of the view that the hearing should move forward and had no need to touch on the 2013 election, as it was over and the results had been officially accepted.

He added that prolonging the election could lead to criticism from the international community.

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