The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has granted permission for Kem Sokha, former president of the long-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), to meet with his defence lawyer on March 28. The meeting is set to take place at his residence in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district.
The approval followed a March 22 request from Sokha, who said he needed to consult with his counsel before filing an appeal. Sokha was sentenced early this month to 27 years house arrest for conspiring with foreign powers to topple the government.
“We allow the defence lawyer who was named in the municipal court criminal case dated September 3, 2017 to meet with Sokha at his residence on March 28, from 7am to 5pm,” said a March 22 letter signed by prosecutor Chreung Khmao.
The letter also instructed the judicial police to facilitate the meeting.
Muth Chantha, a close aide of Sokha, took to social media on March 23 saying that Sokha was unable to meet his lawyers on March 14, and that the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) had told Sokha to follow the March 3 court ruling if he wanted to consult with his lawyer.
“On March 22, Sokha wrote a letter to the prosecutor requesting that he be allowed to meet with his lawyer on Tuesday, March 28, as he needed to consult with him about his planned appeal,” he said, noting that prosecutor Khmao granted permission later that day.
BAKC confirmed in its March 17 press release that Sokha must comply with the March 3 verdict should he need access to legal services.
The March 3 ruling bars Sokha from leaving his Tuol Kork residence and from meeting anyone – outside of his own family – by any means, in-person or electronically, unless granted express permission by the prosecutor. He has also been stripped of the rights to be involved in politics.