Cambodia National Rescue Party acting president Kem Sokha will not attend his trial next week, his daughter and party official Kem Monovithya told supporters in the US, while also raising the prospect of demonstrations in the event of her father’s arrest.
Speaking in Lowell, Massachusetts, over the weekend, the CNRP’s deputy head of public affairs also appealed for the international community to support the opposition’s beleaguered leaders.
Sokha has been holed up for three months at CNRP’s headquarters to avoid arrest. He has been charged with “refusal to appear” for shunning a court request to answer questions about his alleged affair with a hairdresser. A trial has been set for September 9.
The cases against Sokha, a conviction and new trial hanging over the head of self-exiled CNRP president Sam Rainsy, and a slew of legal actions against opposition members are widely considered politically motivated, a point Monovithya stressed in her speech.
“It is not important what case they use to sue, when they want to arrest, they arrest. They will create a case to charge. If they need to imprison, they will create a case to imprison,” she said.
Monovithya also noted that taking to the streets remained an option to prevent Rainsy and Sokha’s sentencing, but added that any protests needed to remain non-violent.
Reached yesterday, Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said that any use of “the public’s forces” would be “a mechanism outside of the law that we cannot accept”, and maintained that if Sokha skipped his trial the court could choose to issue an arrest warrant.