Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trial set for ex-CNRP leaders, supporters

Trial set for ex-CNRP leaders, supporters

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Defence lawyer Som Sokong speaks to reporters outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2016. Hong Menea

Trial set for ex-CNRP leaders, supporters

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hear the cases of 150 people including former leaders and supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on November 25-26 on charges of “attack”, “plotting”, and “incitement”.

The charges are in relation to their pledge of support for the return of former self-exiled CNRP leader Sam Rainsy to Cambodia on November 9 last year.

Suong Chan Thorn, the lawyer representing the government, said the court will first hear a case against nine people charged with “attack”. Named in this case are CNRP leaders Rainsy, Eng Chhai Eang and Mu Sochua.

The court will hear cases against 114 others on November 26 on charges of “plotting” and “ incitement”.

The total number of defendants remain unclear.

Defense lawyer Som Sokong said police had posted a warrant at the former CNRP headquarters in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Krom commune.

“Until now, we have yet to have the real number of people charged because not all have been summoned to court yet. The number we have now is nearly 150,” he said.

Sokong said more than 100 of his clients were charged with plotting and incitement to cause social chaos. However, most of his clients fled abroad to escape arrest.

“Lawyers have difficulties in preparing a defense. It requires legal counselling online and via phone calls. There are many clients and we cannot meet all of them. Another difficulty is we didn’t study the case well. There are many clients charged with criminal offences,” he said.

Sokong said it will be difficult to ensure justice if the hearing is held for all the accused at the same time and not open to the public.

“I think such a hearing is possible, but there should be discussions as to how it should be arranged to follow the stadard of hearings at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia,” he said, referring to the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“We can set a timetable and times, and [decide] how many accused and witnesses can appear at the hearing at a time. By so doing, some of the accused would not have to sit watching the judges question only one or two defendants and adjourn. It would be a waste of their time,” he said.

Dim Saroeun, a former CNRP senior official from Battambang province, said he will appear as summoned by the court.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong could not be reached for comment.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the recent arrests of protesters and the summoning of former activists to appear in court was similar to a situation in 2014. Then, he said, UN rights envoy to Cambodia Surya Subedi expressed concern about human rights abuses when he saw the court being used as a tool of the executive body.

“This status of our courts of law has not changed since then, and to expect justice from them would simply be wishful thinking,” he said.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said it was not strange that so many people have been accused.

He said some offences involved many people because the crimes committed were done systematically and were clearly organised.

“Whether people are more or less involved, as long as there is a strong legal basis to show there are stakeholders, initiators and conspirators, they must be held accountable for their offences based on facts and laws,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the