Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha’s appeal motion shot down by court

Sokha’s appeal motion shot down by court

Hem Socheat (left) and two other attorneys who represent acting CNRP leader Kem Sokha wait for a hearing at the Phnom Penh Appeals Court yesterday morning.
Hem Socheat (left) and two other attorneys who represent acting CNRP leader Kem Sokha wait for a hearing at the Phnom Penh Appeals Court yesterday morning. Heng Chivoan

Sokha’s appeal motion shot down by court

The Appeals Court yesterday turned down a motion filed by acting CNRP president Kem Sokha to halt judicial proceedings brought against him by a lower court for failing to respond to multiple summonses.

Sokha, who again chose not to appear before the court, was represented by five attorneys who put forth his case that the summonses Sokha received for ignoring other summonses relating to his alleged sex scandal were illegal.

However, following a three-hour session, the court denied the request and allowed the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to continue with its investigation into the case.

“The investigating judges considered [the case] and realised that the procedural process of the prosecutor and the investigating judge [in the lower court] is legally correct,” said judge Phu Povsun.

Sokha has ignored summonses relating to a $300,000 suit filed by his alleged mistress, Khom Chandaraty, and to allegations of “procurement of prostitution”. Though Sokha holds parliamentary immunity, the National Assembly considered the allegations “red-handed” crimes, allowing the lower court to proceed with criminal proceedings under a constitutional loophole.

Hem Socheat, one of Sokha’s attorneys, said that given the political nature of the case, he wasn’t surprised by the outcome, but said they would nonetheless appeal the decision. “The attorneys will consider filing a complaint to the Supreme Court for cancellation of these summonses,” he said.

“I observe that the court is not brave enough to make the [right] decision.”

Following a party permanent committee meeting yesterday, CNRP chief whip Son Chhay said the opposition had decided to send letters to the National Assembly and National Election Committee (NEC) asking for clarification on self-exiled party leader Sam Rainsy’s removal from parliament last November.

Chhay said the NEC needed to clarify why Rainsy was stripped of his lawmaker status following an arrest warrant over a long-dormant 2010 defamation conviction filed by ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong when he had been allowed to stand as a lawmaker in 2013. “If we base it on the [previous 2013] decision of the NEC, it means that His Excellency Sam Rainsy did not commit any crime in the past. We just want confirmation from them,” he said.

Koul Panha, head of election monitor Comfrel, said the NEC had made the determination as to whether Rainsy had a clean criminal record, and that if a conviction was pending against him, he shouldn’t have been allowed to contest.

“With the old NEC, they should not have allowed him to contest, but it was influenced by political parties,” he said, referring to the previous iteration of the election body, which was widely seen as a tool of ruling party before it was overhauled as a concession to the opposition after the 2013 elections. “When there was a political solution, they let him contest.”

The CNRP also resolved to push ahead for negotiations with the ruling CPP, a sentiment echoed by Sokha on Facebook. “We have already contacted the leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party, but we have not yet received a positive response,” he wrote.

In response, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said even if a formal request was made by the opposition, negotiations could not be held if they would influence court proceedings against CNRP and civil society members.

Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • Quarantine still a must for all arrivals, in next Covid chapter

    Since early May, an average of five to 10 Cambodian people have died from Covid-19 a day with many others testing positive amid the ongoing community outbreak. At the same time, however, hundreds of patients also recovered a day. The first Covid-19 case in Cambodia was

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • First commercial gold mine online

    Australian miner Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd on June 21 began the commercial operation of its $120 million Okvau Gold Project in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, becoming the Kingdom’s first gold producer. Located in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district, the