Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - One year on in Sokha case




One year on in Sokha case

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Opposition leader Kem Sokha is escorted by police following his midnight arrest in Phnom Penh last year. afp

One year on in Sokha case

The International Federation of Human Rights has called for the unconditional release of former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha, as Monday marked the first anniversary of his arrest.

“After jailing Sokha in order to exclude him and his party from the recent sham general election, Prime Minister Hun Sen is now keeping him behind bars to use him as a bargaining chip in an attempt to avoid international sanctions."

“Sokha’s prolonged and arbitrary detention without trial must immediately end,” said Debbie Stothard, the federation’s secretary-general.

Sokha has been put on pre-trial detention for a year after he was charged with “conspiracy with a foreign country” – a charge which carries a jail term of about 15 to 30 years if found guilty.

He was arrested at his house in the capital’s Tuol Kork district following his return from abroad on September 3, last year.

Last Thursday, investigating judge Ky Rithy extended his detention by another six months on the grounds that there was a need to further probe the matter.

Ministry of Justice’s spokesperson Chin Malin said yesterday that demanding Sokha’s release would have no effect at all as the court will decide based on the facts and legal provisions, and not on particular requests from anyone.

“The way to help Kem Sokha is to participate in the legal process by trying to collect evidence to lift [his] burden. This is the best way."

“Even though the court decided to extend his detention, Sokha can file an appeal to the higher court for a bail,” Malin said.

In the meantime, the investigating judge also summoned Vorn Pov, the director of the Indepedent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) as a witness in the case.

The August 28 summon, obtained by The Post, said Pov had to appear in court on September 10 to answer charges related to Sokha.

When contacted yesterday, Pov said he just received the letter and would be present at the court on the day, adding, “I don’t know why I was called to be a witness”.

In January 2014, garment workers staged a protest along Veng Sreng Street. Four people were killed during a confrontation with police and the military.

But a day earlier, a protest took place at Yakjin where Pov and 22 others were arrested.

“I did not go to Veng Sreng Street to protest, I just went there to observe the protest in front of the Yakjin factory, along National Road 4, and I was arrested at Yakjin on January 2, 2014,” said Pov.

Pov was then sentenced to four-and-half years jail in May 2014 for “intentionally causing damage with aggravating circumstances in accordance with Article 411, and “acts of violence with aggravating circumstances” based on Article 218.

However, his sentence was suspended after five months in jail.

The garment workers protested on Veng Sreng Street to demand an increase of the minimum wage to $160 a month from $95.

The government claimed that the protest was a part of “colour revolution” and accused the court-dissolved CNRP leaders of instigating the violent protest.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Potential shield’ for virus hangs in balance

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) suspended trials of the drug that US president Donald Trump has promoted as a coronavirus defence, fuelling concerns about his handling of the pandemic that has killed nearly 100,000 US citizens. Trump has led the push for hydroxychloroquine as a potential

  • Gov’t rolls out stimulus to keep businesses afloat

    The government has introduced the fourth round of stimulus measures aimed at ensuring economic and social stability during the outbreak of the Covid-19 disease. The move, which was announced on Tuesday, is designed to help businesses, factories and enterprises to stay afloat while reducing the

  • E-cigarette back in spotlight amid virus pandemic

    The Ministry of Health’s Department of Communicable Disease (DCD) department has released a video about the effects of smoking, while the NGO Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) warned against the use of electronic cigarettes or vape. The short video clip that was posted on

  • Por Sen Chey woman murdered

    Por Sen Chey district police are searching for a suspect who robbed and killed a woman in a rented room in Samraong Kraom commune in Phnom Penh at 6:30pm on Monday. Deputy district police chief Chea Sovann told The Post on Tuesday that the victim,

  • Police chief: remove all roadblocks

    National Police chief Neth Savoeun warned Phnom Penh and provincial police chiefs to remove all roadblocks, saying that traffic police officials in some provinces had tightened traffic law implementation against guidelines. In a leaked voice message which was shared on social media on Tuesday, Savoeun

  • Capital calls for Covid-19 caution

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Hall announced on Monday that authorities in the city’s 14 districts must encourage people to continue various safety measures to prevent a second wave of Covid-19. It called on administrations, departments and units to educate residents on daily living habits like