Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha’s treason trial begins

Sokha’s treason trial begins

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former Cambodia National Rescue Party president Kem Sokha arrives at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

Sokha’s treason trial begins

The treason trial of Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday with the presentation of a two-minute video clip.

The footage, which was the basis of the charge against him, was dismissed by Sokha as having been edited.

Government lawyer Ky Tech said after the hearing that the court had presented the charge against Sokha and informed him of his rights.

He said there were a total of 27 witnesses in the case, but only 12 had appeared in court on Wednesday, with the other 15 absent without clear reasons.

Tech said Sokha’s lawyers had submitted a USB stick containing the original video, lasting more than one hour, which they requested the court to play.

“Kem Sokha told the hearing that the voice and picture in the clip were of him, but he produced another video and requested the trial chamber to accept it. He said the video played in court had been edited,” Tech said.

He said the court accepted Sokha’s video footage and will play it at a future date.

Tech said Sokha’s case of conspiracy with a foreign power involved nine countries, certain NGOs and foreign individuals. Without clarifying their roles, he named the countries as Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Australia, the US, Canada, the EU, Taiwan and India.

Tech requested the court to record these countries in the judgement using Khmer letters as a code to protect diplomatic relations, but keep the names in full in the court report as this was an internal document.

“We, the lawyers, have two bags of evidence. We will present this evidence at the hearing to ensure that the court’s verdict is just.

“We lawyers and the court prosecutor have a pile of evidence to submit to the trial chamber for them to decide on Sokha’s guilt and to what extent he is legally responsible,” Tech said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The press awaits the arrival of Supreme Court-dissolved CNRP president Kem Sokha at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. Hong Menea

Asked if the case was political, Tech replied that the court was trying Sokha with conspiracy with a foreign power according to Article 443 of the Criminal Code.

He said the trial would continue for as long as both sides needed to clarify the facts.

Meng Sopheary, a member of Sokha’s four-lawyer legal team, said her client had denied the charge brought against him by the prosecutor. She said Sokha had rejected the two-minute video clip played in court, saying it was misleading after being cut and edited.

“With the video clip edited and misleading, Kem Sokha requests to bring forward more evidence – that is, the whole of the original video from 2013, which lasts more than an hour,” Sopheary said.

In the afternoon, the court questioned Sokha on his activities from 1993 to 2007, before asking him about the establishment of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said Cham Chen, another of Sokha’s lawyers.

“Sokha asked the court why he had been accused using an article in the Criminal Code officially approved in 2000 for an accusation dating back to 1993,” Chen said.

Sokha also took to Facebook to deny the charge.

“I did NOT bring in any foreign state or foreign agents to conduct hostilities or an invasion against the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“I did NOT commit anything of which I am accused – especially, I haven’t committed any acts detrimental to national interests,” Sokha said.

He said all of his activities had focused on human rights and democracy, and were carried out in a peaceful and non-violent manner in accordance with the Cambodian Constitution.

“[I will] continue to demand that the court permanently drop the charge against me so that I can fully exercise my political freedoms in serving and defending the interests of the country and the people,” Sokha said.

The trial will resume on Thursday. It is scheduled to take place every Wednesday and Thursday.

Watch video:

MOST VIEWED

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas