Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

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The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has reduced bail conditions for Kem Sokha more than two years after he had been charged with treason. Kem Sokha via Facebook

Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped.

“As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand that the charge against me is dropped.

“I hope that the decision made today is just the first step. I and other citizens who have lost our political freedom still need to find a solution and real justice,” said Sokha, the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

He said he would meet Cambodians later and will reveal his schedule in due course.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court reduced Sokha's bail conditions more than two years after he was charged with treason.

Y Rin, a spokesperson for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court confirmed to The Post on Sunday that Sokha’s new bail conditions allowed him to travel anywhere within the country.

“He must respect the three points laid out by the court. In the past, he could only move within a certain area, but now he can travel in a wider area,” Y Rin said.
According to the announcement by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday, Sokha must remain within Cambodia, must not be involved in political activism and must respond to any summons by the authorities.

The reduction of Sokha's bail conditions came following a request by his lawyers considering his health condition, good cooperation with the court and having respected all his bail conditions.

Sokha was arrested in September 2017 and charged with "conspiracy with a foreign power". He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if found guilty.

In September last year, he was granted bail on the condition he remained at his house in the capital's Tuol Kork district. This came after he had spent a year in the Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum.

Meng Sopheary, one of Sokha’s four lawyers, told The Post on Sunday that his legal team had lodged a request with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to have their client's charge dropped.

She said Sokha and his team of lawyers were still fully unclear as to the bail conditions banning him from involvement in political activities.

Sokha, she said, had yet to leave his house as he wanted to better understand his bail conditions.

“We, the co-lawyers, filed a request not for reducing the bail conditions, but for having our client's charge dropped. But we received only a change in his bail conditions. We continue to demand that his charge is dropped,” Sopheary said.

Human rights NGOs welcomed Sokha's reduced bail conditions and also called for his charge be dropped.

US Ambassador Patrick Murphy echoed the demand.

“We note the partial lifting of restrictions on former National Assembly vice-president Kem Sokha. This is a step in the right direction, but for genuine progress, his full rights and freedoms must be restored,” he wrote on Twitter.

He added that he hoped to see Sokha participate fully in politics as soon as possible.