Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Political analyst Kim Sok back in court as release nears



Political analyst Kim Sok back in court as release nears

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Convicted political analyst Kim Sok attends Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday for further questioning regarding a second charge. Pha Lina

Political analyst Kim Sok back in court as release nears

Just three days before he was to be released after completing an 18-month sentence for defamation, convicted political analyst Kim Sok was taken to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday for further questioning regarding a second charge.

It is alleged that Sok claimed the government has created a system for extrajudicial killings in which the perpetrators would never be found.

Sok was placed in pre-trial detention on February 17 last year for comments on Radio Free Asia (RFA) over the murder of prominent political analyst Kem Ley, who was gunned down in the capital on July 10, 2016.

Sok said on the talk show on February 11, 2017: “After doing those things – killings and other things – [they] finally killed Kem Ley, but people were still [protesting]. So the last approach is using the legal means … their target is not only Sam Rainsy … the goal is to destroy the CNRP [Cambodia National Rescue Party].”

The comments resulted in a court case that saw him charged with defamation and provocation to commit felonies, and in July last year he was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay 800 million riel ($200,000) in compensation to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

But Sok is facing another lawsuit filed by government lawyer Ky Tech on the behalf of Hun Sen over his clarifications to the previous comments.

During an RFA talk show on February 13, last year, Sok denied he had ever accused Prime Minister Hun Sen or the ruling CPP of killing Kem Ley. He said that by “they”, he was referring to “the system”.

“The system under the current government’s control enables killings. There are killings and the murderers cannot be found – not just [in] the case of Kem Ley, but also of other activists,” he said.

In the second case, Tech requested 10 million riel ($2,500) in compensation from Sok and asked the court to sentence him in accordance with the law.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Political analyst Kim Sok raises his hands at Phnom Penh court last year, where he was arrested for defamation and inciting unrest. Heng Chivoan

Escorted out of the municipal court on Tuesday, Sok said: “They questioned me on the new case, but I don’t know how they will decide yet.”

Defence lawyer Choung Choungy, who was present at the court with Kim Sok, declined comment.

Prominent legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said Sok’s comments on the different occasions were separate cases. But Sok’s defence lawyer, he added, can request the court to combine them.

Asked why the court proceeded with the second case when the first one was almost complete, he said the court should not have done so.

“In fact, [the court] should not have waited until [the first case] is over. It’s not right. The court can do it this way, but if we think about morality or, in other words, if the detention is for rehabilitation, that’s one thing.

“If the arrest was for the sake of a charge [that would lead to a prison term], then it’s another story,” he said, questioning whether the intention of the court was to deter others.

“In modern countries, [the courts] don’t intend to [only] punish the people … they [also] focus on rehabilitation. But our country is far from that, so perhaps sentencing [and] handcuffing are [preferable] options [for the courts],” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian

  • Plastic-to-rice initiative transforms waste into bricks

    Volunteers in Kampong Khlaing commune of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district have been collecting plastic waste to use as a raw material for the production of bricks and clemence tiles. The volunteers are hoping that, in addition to helping clean up the environment,