Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha unlikely to show as party gathers at court



Sokha unlikely to show as party gathers at court

Opposition leader Kem Sokha is escorted by police following his midnight arrest in Phnom Penh earlier this month.
Opposition leader Kem Sokha is escorted by police following his midnight arrest in Phnom Penh earlier this month. AFP

Sokha unlikely to show as party gathers at court

With jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha likely barred from attending his own hearing today at the Court of Appeal – due ostensibly to “security concerns” – a group of CNRP lawmakers are planning to gather outside to “monitor” the situation.

Meanwhile, the Cambodia National Rescue Party yesterday put up banners calling for Sokha’s release in all 25 provinces, a move a senior government official characterised as part of a “colour revolution”.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak confirmed last night that the police had decided not to allow Sokha to attend the hearing because of concerns for his own safety, but qualified that it was up to the judge’s discretion whether he would proceed without him.

Court spokesperson Touch Tharith also equivocated, saying it was up to the Prisons Department to actually bring the accused to court, but adding that Sokha’s presence wasn’t needed. “His lawyers can raise evidence to defend [him] . . . It seems not to affect [his] rights,” he said.

Nuth Savna, spokesperson for the General Department of Prisons, said yesterday afternoon that he had not yet received final word on whether to bring Sokha to court, and CC3 prison chief Pin Yan said he hadn’t received orders to bring Sokha or to prepare a video conference.

Sam Sokong, one of Sokha’s eight defence lawyers, maintained the party chief’s presence was crucial. “He wants to join the hearing,” he said, adding that if Sokha wasn’t present in the morning the lawyers would request to postpone the hearing, or potentially walk out.

Sokha’s lawyers are challenging his pre-trial detention, arguing that he enjoys parliamentary immunity and that it was illegal to arrest him after midnight. The arrest – for “treason” – followed the re-emergence of a 2013 video in which Sokha described receiving political advice from the US.

CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua said lawmakers would gather at the court regardless of whether their leader was there. “It’s to monitor,” she said.

Meanwhile, Pol Ham, another CNRP deputy, unveiled the banners calling for Sokha’s “Immediate and Unconditional Release” at a press conference, reiterating Sokha was still the party’s leader. “With the decision of the CNRP permanent committee, we decided today to put up banners demanding to drop the charge,” he said.

The Interior Ministry’s Sopheak condemned the signs as “pictures of a colour revolution”.

“Kem Sokha learned this from the US,” he added. “This is an instruction from Kem Sokha from inside the prison.”

Deputy President Sochua rejected the allegation.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,