Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trial of KPPM leader, three others goes on

Trial of KPPM leader, three others goes on

Trial of KPPM leader, three others goes on

Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM) leader Sourn Serey Ratha’s overseas activities became the focus yesterday of a Phnom Penh Municipal Court hearing – where two KPPM affiliates and a nonparty member stood trial – after lawyers accused him of holding seminars urging people to topple Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.

KPPM members Serey Bunlong and Sen Someng and civilian Oum Phirum appeared in court to face charges of treason and obstructing electoral procedures after they reportedly distributed T-shirts with slogans admonishing citizens to abstain from voting in last year’s national election.

US resident Serey Ratha – also accused of treason for allegedly calling on Cambodia’s armed forces to turn their weapons against “the despot”, Hun Sen, in a Facebook post – was absent from the hearing.

The trial, however, centred on the dissident’s alleged activities in the US and in Europe.

“They brought in two witnesses for the accused . . . but they spent a long time talking about Sourn Serey Ratha’s activities, like having workshops and speaking in public abroad,” said defence lawyer Sok Sam Oeun.

In one video clip, which plaintiff lawyers called proof of Serey Ratha’s treachery, according to Sam Oeun, the vocal government critic was recorded saying: “We must stand up to struggle for the nation and have people in the country rebel in every village and 25 provinces. This is a joint mission and the policy of KPPM.”

But in an open letter read to the court, Serey Ratha denied the treason charges.

“The terrorist charges are not true and the USA does not allow terrorists to do that in their country,” he wrote.

During the trial, the three accused also said they weren’t aware or Serey Ratha’s political leanings and, had they known, would not have distributed the T-shirts.

If charges were dropped against him and the other accused, Serey Ratha wrote that he will come back to Cambodia to start a political party for the next elections.

Presiding judge Tob Chhung Heng said more evidence will be presented in the next hearing on December 16.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Phnom Penh condo market loses steam

    Just four new condominiums were launched for sale last year in the capital, down from 17 in 2020, according to research by CBRE Cambodia. The four developments comprised “more than 1,000” units, while the 17 in 2020 consisted of 10,866, the real estate firm reported. CBRE Cambodia categorises condos as “high-range”, “

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused