Jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha was officially charged with treason this morning, about 36 hours after he was arrested from his Phnom Penh residence in a midnight raid by more than 100 police and sent to a Tbong Khmum prison.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophanna said that after reviewing the case, questioning Sokha and verifying evidence, there were sufficient grounds for prosecutors to charge the opposition leader under Article 443 of the Criminal Code for “conspiring with foreign power”.
“Kem Sokha, head of Cambodia National Rescue Party, was arrested by police for committing [a] red-handed crime related to a secret plan and the activities of conspiracy between Kem Sokha and foreigners which causes chaos and affects the Kingdom of Cambodia,” an official statement from the court reads.
Sokha was arrested midnight Sunday after a 2013 video surfaced where he claims to have received United States’ assistance for planning his political career. He was questioned for more than four hours yesterday at Tbong Khmum’s Trapaeng Phlong prison by a team of three Phnom Penh prosecutors.
One of Sokha’s five lawyers, Meng Sopheary, said she had only heard that the CNRP’s president had been charged but was unaware of the exact charges, whereas another lawyer, Sam Sokong, said he had yet to be officially notified about the charges.
A government statement on Sunday said Sokha had violated Article 443 of the Criminal Code for “conspiring with foreign power”, which comes with a 15 to 30 year prison sentence. The statement also claimed that crime was a red-handed crime, despite the video being close to four years old and Sokha entitled to parliamentary immunity.