Cambodia’s Main Opposition Leader Put on Trial for Treason

Cambodia National Rescue Party former president Kem Sokha greets journalists after meeting with Australian Ambassador to Cambodia Angela Corcoran in his house in Phnom Penh Nov. 12 2019

A Cambodian court convened on Wednesday to begin the trial of opposition party leader Kem Sokha on charges of treason in a case that has drawn condemnation from rights groups as a move by long-time leader Hun Sen to suppress political rivals. If found guilty, he could be sent to prison for up to 30 years.

After a year in pre-trial detention, he was released on bail in September 2018 and placed under house arrest, from which he was conditionally released in November.

"I strongly believe that the Hun Sen government and Kem Sokha are now in negotiations".

He stands accused of conspiring in a "secret plan" with foreign entities to overthrow the government, according to court documents - charges he vehemently denies.

The first hours of the trial focused on a short video from 2013 in which Sokha says he received foreign assistance to realize his political ambitions.

"All of my activities were focused on human rights and democracy, carried out in peaceful and non-violent manners in accordance with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia". "I continue to demand that the court permanently drop the charge against me so that I can fully exercise my political freedom in participation in serving and defending the interests of the country and the people", Sokha said.

The actions were seen as meant to ensure victory by long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party in the 2018 general election by eliminating the only credible opposition force.

Diplomats packed the Phnom Penh Municipal Court amid tightened security on Wednesday, and reporters were not allowed to view the proceedings after the morning court session.

The government's lawyer, Ky Tech, said other than the USA, others allegedly involved in the case included Indonesia, Serbia, Australia, Canada, the European Union, Taiwan and India.

"We know that not only Kem Sokha has become a hostage of this trial, the entire opposition has too", said Prince Sisowath Thomico, a former senior member of Kem Sokha's dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Civil society groups and journalism organizations released a joint statement Thursday morning, criticizing the court's decision to prevent independent journalists and NGOs from getting passes to enter the court. Sopheary said his team planned to play more of the original video of the speech next week.

MCC wants tests to remain five-day affairs
In the trials - which have only been played in matches involving minnow - days have been expanded to 98 overs per day. However, in the past two years, approximately on 40 per cent of matches have reached into a fifth day.

The trial could therefore run past the European Union's February 12 deadline for a final decision on whether to withdraw Cambodia's duty-free market access to the bloc under its Everything But Arms scheme.

The government may be resigned to the European Union taking action against it. Hun Sen has publicly said he won't let Cambodia be pushed around and its low-priced export industries can survive without the benefit of the trade privileges.

"Kem Sokha will be the victim of a staged trial on completely bogus treason charges", Robertson said.

Why is Kem Sokha on trial?

Cambodia is one of several developing nations with whom the EU has an "Everything But Arms" - or EBA - program granting preferential access to the European market for products other than weapons.

Kem Sokha was arrested in 2017 and his party banned as the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen cracked down on opposition, civil society groups and the media in the run-up to 2018 parliament elections in which the ruling party won every seat.

Asked if the case was political, Tech replied that the court was trying Sokha with conspiracy with a foreign power according to Article 443 of the Criminal Code.

Astrid Noren-Nilsson, an associate senior lecturer at the Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies at Sweden's Lund University, said there was little chance Sokha would be acquitted.

She also questioned the government's contention that the alleged crime started in 1993, asking for specifics from the government lawyers to illustrate the treason plot.

"It is nearly impossible to predict (what will happen) since there are too many scenarios that range from a quick acquittal and a conviction followed by a long-term prison sentence or real forgiveness", he said.

Related News:

Most liked

Stephen King slammed for 'backward and ignorant' diversity comments
The writer explained that "only quality" should matter when deciding personal nominations for the annual movie awards. The director Ava DuVernay called King's comments "so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed ".

New Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC Fighter to be Revealed This Week
For Smash fans in the United States, the Nintendo Direct live stream will be available to watch at the less easy, 6am, PT. Time to add another franchise to the mile long list of spirits in Super Smash Bros .

Fit-again Prithvi Shaw departs for NZ to join India ‘A’
Kumar had successful surgery in London and will begin his rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. Team Idea physio Yogesh Parmar has also been obtainable in London along with Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.

BoJack Horseman faces the music in final Netflix trailer
When BoJack's therapist asks, "But no more?", The trailer is paused to make his answer a mystery to viewers. The final eight episodes serve as the second half of Season 6, which debuted October 25.

The Rise Of Skywalker Finally Crosses The $1 Billion Mark
It is fair to say that in this new age, given that there are no signs of stopping the leaks, Disney is no longer safe. This came via YouTuber Robert Meyer Burnett , and the breakdown of it on Reddit is pretty extensive.

Smoke from Australia's fires will make 'full circuit' around the world
They warn that pyroCbs produce clouds that "behave like traditional thunderstorms but without the accompanying precipitation". The latest bushfire season in Australia is already one of the worst on record, with over 18.6 million hectares burned so far.

Kaia Gerber dumps Pete Davidson
The 18-year-old Gerber has been thinking of the same thing, considering that Davidson is now getting help for his mental health . Right now she's happy with Pete Davidson , so Cindy's trying not to get involved ...

Democrats Debate: Warren and Sanders Talk Women and Electability
Neither campaign would confirm what was said on Tuesday night, but CNN released the audio on Wednesday. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they've been in are the women.

Flyers recover in OT after squandering third-period lead
Brian Elliott will now take over the goaltending duties for the Flyers, who also recalled Alex Lyon to be his backup goalie. Coming off a 1-4-1 road trip, they were able to bounce right back and show they can beat the top teams in the league.

Jennifer Lopez fantasises about moving to Italy
He also expressed frustration that Golden Globe-winner Awkwafina was snubbed by the Academy for her dramatic turn in "The Farewell".

Catherine looks smitten on latest outing as Prince William makes romantic gesture
Meghan has flown to Vancouver, leaving Prince Harry to meet the Queen and talk through their decision. The Duchess of Cambridge beamed as she embraced a young boy and accepted flowers from other children.

Gilgeous-Alexander's first triple-double leads Thunder
The Thunder are at a 23-17 win-loss record and have won eight out of their last 10 games. "I was happy with some of the guys". But as noted by Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman , where Gallinari really excelled on Monday was getting to the free-throw line.

Spurs' DeMar DeRozan throws down vicious dunk over Raptors
When the Spurs visited Toronto in February past year , DeRozan turned the ball in the last few seconds and led to Kawhi Leonard. Powell's three midway through the second saw Toronto go back up by 12, and the Raptors went into the halftime break up 51-43.

Giants' Patrick Graham will also be named assistant head coach
Garrett's experience as a head coach could serve as an asset to Judge, who has never been a head coach at any level. Garrett's coaching tenure in Dallas ended this offseason after a disappointing 8-8 record and no playoff appearance.

Virginia plans emergency gun ban at Capitol ahead of protest
Gun laws have become a dominant issue this legislative session and there's been a heavy police presence at the Capitol. Republicans and gun-rights groups have pledged stiff resistance.