Sokha gets subtle warning over travel

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Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha visited Siem Reap provinces on Saturday. Kem Sokha Facebook

Former CNRP president Kem Sokha was issued a reminder by a trial court judge on Sunday not to violate the terms of his bail as he has been traveling the country.

Sokha’s legal team said on Tuesday their client is aware of the border he can walk and has not violated the court order.

The remarks from Sokha’s lawyers came after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court presiding judge issued a letter reminding Sokha of his bail conditions.

Meng Sopheary, one of Sokha’s four defence lawyers said his travelling did not violate the court’s ban because he has not travelled abroad or engaged in any political activity.

Judge Koy Sao informed Sokha in a letter that the trial chamber had received a report from a judicial police officer that Sokha performed some activities, especially in the provinces, including meeting with the people and gathering and meeting with supporters.

“To ensure respect for the obligations of the judicial review, as well as the personal security and legitimate interests of the accused, the trial chamber is reminding the accused to have a spirit of strict respect and adhere to the obligations imposed by the court.

“As stated, the warrant is valid until the verdict is announced in line with Article 352 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” Judge Sao wrote.

In response, Sopheary said: “Kem Sokha is aware of the prohibition of the investigating judge on the second point that prohibits his right not to conduct politics.

“And he always respects the obligations contained in the order of the investigating judge in the past, present, and future. He does what he has the right to do and does not exceed the court’s ban.”

Chan Chen, another of Sokha’s lawyers, said Sokha knows what he should and should not do. Visiting the provinces or meeting dozens of people by accident is a normal visit and not a political activity.

“It does not violate the bail. If it’s wrong just to meet a few dozen people who love him, it could be a ban on freedom. This letter is a reminder, but it can also be an immediate warning,” he said.

Sokha is on trial for “conspiracy with a foreign power”, or treason, but the trial has been adjourned due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

On November 10, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge Ky Rithy amended his bail condition, allowing Sokha to travel freely in Cambodia, but barred him from leaving the country and engaging in politics.