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Sokha’s lawyers ask bar to facilitate talks

Cambodian Bar Association President Suon Visal speaks to the press yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Cambodian Bar Association President Suon Visal speaks to the press yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Sokha’s lawyers ask bar to facilitate talks

Lawyers for imprisoned opposition leader Kem Sokha, who was arrested last month on charges of “treason”, yesterday appealed to the Cambodian Bar Association for help, saying they have not been able to consult with their client without surveillance by prison guards.

After the Bar Association’s annual congress yesterday, one of Sokha’s lawyers, Choung Choungy, told reporters he needed the association’s assistance, adding confidential meetings are a legal right.

“Once there is a camera, both lawyer and client are cautious and feel scared; therefore, it does not guarantee the defence of his rights,” he said.

“We demand the withdrawal [of the camera], but they do not agree . . . so we are in a very difficult situation. If we forcefully demand it, it might affect [the] case.”

However, Association President Soun Visal said the group could not intervene unless a formal complaint was filed.

“We have not known about the facts clearly yet; we do not dare to conclude on this case,” Visal said.

If such a complaint were lodged, Visal said, a committee would be created to investigate, and that committee would then send the complaint to a lawyer’s council to review the legal aspects and make a decision on whether to intervene.

Another of Sokha’s lawyers, Pheng Heng, doubted filing a complaint would do any good in the politically-charged case.

“We have complained to the court already about the freedom of our client and the lawyer [to meet alone]. So how can we hope the Bar Association will help in this situation? Even if we did file a complaint, it’s meaningless for the result,” Heng said.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

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