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Gov't-produced video sums up Sokha scandal

A screenshot of a video released on Saturday on YouTube by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit featuring Kim Santepheap commenting on Kem Sokha’s legal case. Photo supplied
A screenshot of a video released on Saturday on YouTube by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit featuring Kim Santepheap commenting on Kem Sokha’s legal case. Photo supplied

Gov't-produced video sums up Sokha scandal

The Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PQRU) released a 30-minute, documentary-style video detailing Kem Sokha’s alleged sex scandal and laying a case to justify the actions of the courts in handling criminal proceedings against the CNRP deputy president.

The video, released on Saturday and set to Cambodian singer Noy Vanneth’s song Whose Fault?, uses an interview with Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap and television clips of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the head of the government’s Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC), Keo Remy, to lay out a timeline of events surrounding Sokha’s case.

The video also uses images of Sokha at various events over the past months, footage from court proceedings and events related to Sokha’s case, as well as an audio recording purportedly of a phone conversation between Sokha and an alleged mistress.

Tith Sothea, spokesman for the PQRU, said the video was created to highlight people’s rights and rule of law in Cambodia, so the public can determine for themselves whether Sokha’s case is legitimate or not.

“[Kem Sokha] is using his mistakes to exaggerate and claim the ill-intentioned politicisation [of his case],” he said. “We think [this exaggeration] should be ended, and [Sokha should] accept legal procedures in a democratic society.”

Sothea added that the video was picked up by a handful of television stations.

When asked about the video by the PQRU, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann stuck to the party line of refusing to comment on the affair, calling it a personal matter.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement in response to concerns aired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a recent phone call to Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon.

The ministry’s statement dismissed the widely held interpretation that Sokha’s case was political, and maintained that the court’s actions were justified given that Sokha had been caught red-handed refusing to honour court summonses.

Four human rights workers and an election official have also been jailed after being swept up in the investigation into Sokha’s alleged affair, and two opposition parliamentarians are currently in detention awaiting trial over comments they made regarding the Vietnam border.

Sovann said that concerns such as those raised by the European Parliament – which explicitly called the cases “judicial harassment” – should not be taken lightly. “These are the leaders of powerful countries and international institutions. They have a lot of experience in solving these kinds of problems around the world,” he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry could not be reached for comment.

In a separate statement, the government’s CHRC said some groups “under the umbrella of human rights” were misrepresenting law enforcement in the country and damaging the government’s reputation.

Licadho’s Am Sam Ath, however, said the CHRC should focus on improving human rights in the country rather than “attacking other human rights NGOs”.

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