Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Insurrection’ trial moves on

‘Insurrection’ trial moves on

Cambodia National Rescue Party member Meach Sovannara at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court
Cambodia National Rescue Party member Meach Sovannara at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday morning. Sovannara was arrested following a violent protest in July last year. Pha Lina

‘Insurrection’ trial moves on

The last two opposition activists charged with inciting an “insurrection” during a protest of the 2013 general election were questioned yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, as the lawyer of the accused aired hope that the court would not compile enough evidence to sentence his clients.

The two opposition figures – Meach Sovannara, a senior official with the Cambodian National Rescue Party, and party activist Tep Narin – were questioned by judges Lim Makaron, Y Thavareak and Nou Veasna, along with deputy prosecutor Keo Socheat.

Although strong language was exchanged between the judges and defence lawyer, Choung Choungy, the judges and prosecutor allowed Sovannara to speak at length on his involvement in the violent July 15, 2014, protest near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park that saw at least 39 security personnel and six demonstrators injured.

Judge Makaron grilled Sovannara on whether or not he went to the protest as a leader or participant, and if he took to the stage to make a speech.

“I joined as a Cambodian citizen to express [myself] and to ask for Freedom Park to be reopened,” he replied. “I made a speech for about five minutes. I did not do anything; I walked out.”

He admitted, though, that opposition lawmakers Mu Sochua and Ho Vann had also delivered addresses at the protest, but said he had not communicated with either beforehand.

Sovannara went on to clarify that he could not have possibly led an insurrection unless he had ordered people to disrupt public order, vandalise state property or attempt to topple the government.

“The court must not side with any group to guarantee its independence in the search for justice,” he said. “I hope that the court will find justice without political pressure.”

Sovannara had requested that the court return his passport, promising that he would not flee the country. Judge Makaron said, however, that they could not return the document immediately.

Narin echoed what the previous nine activists had told the court. He maintained that he joined the protest as a means of political expression, and that security personnel had incited the violence that occurred, a version of events corroborated by numerous witnesses.

After the trial, Choungy seemed confident that the court would not be able to convict his clients based on the available evidence.

“I noted in the trial today that it seems the court could not compile enough [evidence] to put the burden on my clients,” he said. “I recognise that there was violence near [Freedom Park], but I looked, and there was no insurrection.”

The trial is set to continue on June 29 with the 41 security personnel who are plaintiffs.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Malaysian MP calls on his government to take stand on Cambodian elections

    A Malaysian parliamentarian raised concerns in his country on Wednesday about Cambodia’s July 29 national elections and urged his government to clarify its position on the subject, the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said on Thursday. Wong Chen, a member of the People’s

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not