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Sokha’s lawyers reject evidence

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Kem Sokha left the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after his hearing last month. Heng Chivoan

Sokha’s lawyers reject evidence

Kem sokha's defence team on Thursday requested the trial chamber to reject additional evidence submitted by prosecutor Phlong Sophal, saying that it was against legal procedure.

Sophal had wanted to submit more evidence in response to an hour-long video clip submitted in court by Sokha’s defence team.

He subsequently submitted a further seven short video clips and transcriptions to the trial chamber and requested that the chamber accept them.

Most of the video clips presented by Sophal at the hearing showed people involved in the protests in Freedom Park and along Veng Sreng Street.

The clips were allegedly evidence that the protests were aimed at toppling the government in a conspiracy with a foreign power.

Sokha’s defence team rejected the evidence saying that the submission was against Article 321 of the Criminal Code, which states that once a case has reached the trial phase all evidence must already have been submitted.

They said there is no law that allows prosecutors to submit additional evidence.

Chan Chen, one of Sokha’s defence lawyers said at the hearing that the evidence which was sent to court for the trial must be credible beyond reasonable doubt.

If it is not, it means that Sokha is innocent and the court must drop the charge, he said.

“I have just heard that prosecutors have submitted additional evidence. There has never been a prosecutor who has submitted additional evidence previously.

“The prosecutor’s job is to come to court to try him [Sokha] on the evidence that has been submitted, and not add more evidence,” Chen said.

Another of Sokha’s lawyers, Meng Sopheary, told the court that Sophal was not a party to the case, and it is only the accused or victims who can submit additional evidence.

“The further submission of evidence must mean that the investigation is effectively done, and the evidence which was brought to trial was enough to convict Sokha beyond reasonable doubt.

“If the prosecutor needs to submit more evidence during the trial, it means that the charges brought against Sokha have not been proven beyond reasonable doubt, which requires the charges against him to be dropped,” Sopheary said.

But Sophal fought back. He said Article 321 used the word ‘they’. He said according to the article, ‘they’ could submit evidence at any time, and the word ‘they’ did not specify that only a victim or the accused could add evidence, and subsequently did not ban prosecutors from submitting additional evidence.

He said that more evidence had to be submitted [by him] in order to level-off against the evidence submitted to the court by Sokha’s lawyers.

“Lawyers have never served as prosecutors. So, you don’t need to try and teach prosecutors how to do their jobs.

“Article 321 states that a party can submit more evidence at any point. It does not state that the prosecutor cannot submit evidence. The lawyers defending Sokha are interpreting the law beyond what it states,” he said.

Civil party lawyer Ly Chantola said during the trial that the government lawyer, defence lawyers, and prosecutor have equal rights before the law.

But the president of the trial chamber Judge Koy Sao said the chamber will decide at the next hearing whether or not the additional evidence submitted by Sophal abided by legal procedures.

Judge Sao said the trial will resume on March 11 and 12.

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