Cambodia to Open Treason Trial of Opposition Leader Kem Sokha

16 Janvier, 2020, 10:36 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Cambodian protester Tuy Sros lies dead in a Jan. 8 2020

The first day of Kem Sokha's trial hearing ended Wednesday evening, with the former opposition leader facing questions about his early political career, the founding of a human rights group and its funding by worldwide donors, especially USAID.

Kem Sokha's daughter Monovithya Kem called the trial against her father a "farce" as rights groups urged the case to be dismissed.

"He said he set up CCHR and got funding from USAID", she said. Ky Tech did not specify whether the court plans to summon representatives of those countries to appear at the trial.

"And this is not just the trial of Kem Sokha".

The case against Sokha, as well as the dissolving of the CNRP, was widely criticized in and outside Cambodia.

These monikers, the government lawyers said, would apply to countries linked to the case, such as the U.S., Canada, the EU, Indonesia, India, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Australia, and Taiwan. He was arrested in 2017, and the government dissolved his party. He maintains his innocence and his lawyers have said that prosecutors lack evidence to convict. About two months after his arrest, the Supreme Court of Cambodia dissolved the CNRP and banned 118 of the party's official from political activities.

He was freed from house arrest in November but a ban on him engaging in political activity was kept in place.

Following Wednesday's proceedings, Kem Sokha posted a message to his Facebook account in which he said he "categorically den [ies] the charge of "conspiracy with foreign powers" which was brought against me".

"I did NOT bring in any foreign state or foreign agents to conduct hostilities or an invasion against the Kingdom of Cambodia".

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Rights groups have decried the case. "At other courts people can watch the developments on a big screen". "I want justice to come swiftly".

After the morning session focused on a video clip that, according to the government, supports the treason charge, the presiding judges considered a proposal from government lawyers to use Khmer letters as monikers to refer to foreign governments, organizations, and individuals during the trial, to ensure that Cambodia does not damage its foreign and diplomatic relations.

Kem Sokha addresses the media outside his home in Phnom Penh in November 2019.

"All democrats must condemn Hun Sen to show that the charges against Kem Sokha are groundless", he wrote from self-imposed exile in Paris, France, where he has lived in 2015 to avoid a string of charges and convictions he says are politically motivated. It's the trial of the CNRP.

"There is only one solution: The court must drop charges against Kem Sokha". In the speech, he talked about receiving support from the USA to create change in the country from a grassroots level. It has been monitoring the human rights situation here for a year, and is demanding that charges against Kem Sokha be dropped.

"Kem Sokha will be the victim of a staged trial on completely bogus treason charges", Mr Robertson said.
Sokha spent a year in prison and another under house arrest.

"This lack of independence of the Cambodian judiciary and last minute restrictions placed by the court on trial monitors should raise serious concerns regarding Kem Sokha's right to a fair trial", he said.

The case against him has drawn condemnation from rights groups and the worldwide community, who have accused Hun Sen, the South East Asian nation's longtime leader, of trying to silence political rivals.

Villarin said that Cambodia's courts routinely demonstrate that they act according to Hun Sen's interests, rather than based on the facts and evidence presented to them. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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