Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGO staff, former CNRP lawmakers ordered to testify in ‘treason’ case

NGO staff, former CNRP lawmakers ordered to testify in ‘treason’ case

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A protester is slapped by chief of the Daun Penh security guards Kim Vutha near the Appeal Court, where opposition leader Kem Sokha was challenging the extension of his pretrial detention in March. Pha Lina

NGO staff, former CNRP lawmakers ordered to testify in ‘treason’ case

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summonsed eight people as witnesses to testify at the trial of Kem Sokha for alleged “treason”. The warrants were signed by Investigating Judge Ky Rithy and seen by The Post.

Among those summonsed are Pa Nguon Teang, a former Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) staffer and executive director of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM); Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the CCHR; and Sia Phearum, the former executive director of the Human Rights Task Force (HRTF).

The others are Keo Rotana, a former host on 93.5 FM and the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s (CNRP) now-halted radio station; Khoeun Virath a former CNRP commune chief; Meas Kimseng, formerly of human rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut; Heng Pisith, from online media outlet Social Breaking News; and Kry Song, a former CCHR staff member.

Sokha, the former CNRP president, has been held in a Tbong Khmum prison since his midnight arrest on September 3. This followed the release of a 2013 video, in which he talks with supporters in Australia about having received foreign assistance during his political career.

“I, Ky Rithy, Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge, call [Sopheap] as a witness to come to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on June 7 [in the] case against the charged Kem Sokha for treason,” states a warrant signed by him and dated May 17.

However, the CCHR said in a statement released on Sunday that Sopheap is yet to receive the summons. “When [Sopheap] receives the summons, [she] will comply,” the statement said.

Phearum said he would not attend court to testify in Sokha’s case as he “does not know anything”. “I do not know anything as I was not involved with nor had any relationship with Kem Sokha.”

Political analyst Hang Pitu said: “When the court keeps summonsing people related to Kem Sokha, the government’s intention is to pressure, threaten and intimidate.

“This is the ruling party’s strategy for the elections to reduce certain civil organisations’ influence and activities,” he said.

Sokha has left prison only once since his arrest, for a bail hearing at the Appeal Court in February.

The CNRP was dissolved in November following a complaint from the Ministry of Interior. Some 118 party officials, including Sokha, have been banned from the political arena for five years.

His arrest warrant was issued after the court summonsed Beehive Radio founder Mam Sonando and CPP spokesman Chhim Phal Virun, a former CCHR staff member, as witnesses.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Vietnamese workers in Koh Kong questioned

    The General Department of Immigration (GDI) is questioning 49 Vietnamese nationals who were working illegally in Koh Kong province to build a case and send them back to Vietnam, its Department of Investigation and Procedure director Kem Sarin said on Thursday. GDI forces and provincial authorities

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism