Kem Sokha, the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has appealed against the decision to send his treason case to trial.
Sokha’s legal team said their client was not satisfied with the decision of a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge and had requested them to appeal.
The lawyers based their argument on three points, including that the investigation into their client’s case had not been fully completed because it had not looked into his alleged accomplices.
“The case brought against my client by the authorities said he had conspired with foreigners, but until now who are these foreigners? We haven’t seen the investigating judge extend his investigation into others involved,” said Chan Chen, one of Sokha’s four defence lawyers.
They also argued that Sokha was currently banned from leaving Cambodia and being involved in politics. Another point was that the investigating judge had not responded to a request for his charge to be dropped.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court made a public statement on Monday saying the investigation into Sokha for “conspiracy with a foreign power” had concluded and his case had been forwarded for trial. A date for the hearing has yet to be set.
Meanwhile, Sokha’s daughter Kem Monovithya attacked the “Sam Rainsy smear machine” as she criticised the case against her father.
With Sokha’s treason case moving forwards over the past few weeks, Monovithya tweeted that the “Cambodian People’s Party court is trying to convict Kem Sokha of treason after two years of unlawful detention”.
She also attacked Rainsy’s group for “smears” regarding Sokha’s future.
“Meanwhile there is Sam Rainsy’s smear machine working overtime, calling Kem Sokha a CPP [ruling Cambodian People’s Party] puppet for fear he would later be pardoned by the King.
This is the Cambodia politics we need to change!” she tweeted.
She also took to Facebook to remind of what had to be overcome before Sokha’s Human Rights Party could merge with the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) in 2012.
She said the merger that led to the CNRP was possible only when the SRP had dropped the “dark rusted smear guns” they had used to attack Sokha for five years.
She claimed Sokha would ally with another party in 2020 to create a large-scale national reconciliation group based on democratic and multiparty principles.
The coming merger would leave the past behind and improve Cambodia’s standing on the international stage.
Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Monovithya was protecting her father, which was natural for a daughter.
With regards to labelling Sokha a CPP puppet, Phea said Monovithya’s words heralded a separation between Sokha and Rainsy, the “acting president” of the CNRP.
“The statement from Kem Sokha’s daughter reflects a split between the supporters of Kem Sokha and that of Sam Rainsy . . . they have always had differing views.
“Kem Monovithya has predicted that there will be accusations from Sam Rainsy should the King pardon her father. If we look at her message, it means both sides are already predicting a future split,” Phea said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said: “I would rather let the Kem Sokha camp and the Sam Rainsy camp fight to the last CNRP supporter.” He added that he agreed with Monovithya that Sokha had been unlawfully detained.