Sokha case sees ‘new evidence’

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Kem Sokha left the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after his hearing last month. Heng Chivoan

Lawyers for Supreme Court-dissolved former Cambodia National Rescue Party president Kem Sokha claimed in court on Wednesday that the prosecution in his treason case had introduced “new evidence” in the form of unlawful documents to question their client.

They expressed doubt over the documents during Wednesday’s hearing, when the trial chamber, lawyers for the government and the prosecutor had shown a document as evidence to question Sokha. But Sokha’s lawyers claimed they had never received that document.

Discussions proceeded at great length about evidence used to charge Sokha with treason, such as that from Facebook user “Kon Khmer” and a joint statement on the establishment of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

The prosecutor took evidence such as the statement to question Sokha. But immediately Sokha’s lawyers objected and asked the prosecutor show identification (ID) for the document as they argued that it was not found.

After being informed of the ID, lawyers for the government, the prosecutor and the trial chamber said they all had the document.

Meng Sopheary, one of Sokha’s four defence lawyers said the document that the court accepted to question Sokha was an “irregular” one and was just included.

She made the claim after she requested the document from the prosecutor and noted that the document in the trial chamber’s possession had no ID but just letters.

“I ask the judge to consider whether the prosecutor has just included new evidence, or not” she said.

Koy Sao, the president of the trial chamber said at the hearing that the document contained in Disc 126 (video clip) in the case was received from the investigative judge. Perhaps the lawyers for Sokha had not yet read or copied the document, he said.

However, Sokha’s lawyers spent hours including their lunch break looking for the document, but did not find it. They told the court in the afternoon that they have never obtained the document. They requested that Disc 126 be presented in court to prove the integrity of evidence.

Sao said that he didn’t take the disc to the courtroom and left it at his office and that if required, he needed a 20-minute break from the hearing to take the disc and his personal computer to be presented.

But Sokha’s lawyers objected to this and insisted the disc be shown during the hearing. They said the trial chamber is supposed to have the disc in the courtroom.

Wednesday’s hearing is the fifth week in Sokha’s case where he is charged with conspiracy with a foreign power.