Sokha urges drop of all charges

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Kem Sokha left the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after his hearing in January. Heng Chivoan

Former opposition leader Kem Sokha on Wednesday reiterated his call for the court to drop all charges against him. The call came as he marked three years since his arrest on a treason charge.

However, Ministry of Justice officials said the court can only make a decision based on facts, the law, witnesses and evidence.

In his Facebook post, Sokha said the ongoing case costs him freedom and rights in politics, and opportunities to serve the people and nation.

He said Cambodia needs to take positive steps rather than suspect negativity at a time when the world is facing the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis.

“Under these circumstances, Cambodians should have the spirit of national reconciliation and unity. I should also have full rights and freedom to be able to serve the nation and the Cambodian people.

“I can contribute to finding solutions to the most important challenges, including the livelihoods of Khmer citizens which have been affected by the global economic crisis,” he said.

Sokha claimed there is no specific and sufficient evidence against him and it is clear he has no intention of committing or supporting any acts that harm the national interest.

He said national and international leaders, as well as the judges, understand and recognise he has no intention of committing or supporting violence.

“Based on this consciousness and the spirit of national reconciliation and unity, I request the court to consider dropping the charges against me and grant me full freedom so that I can continue to serve the nation and Khmer people under the umbrella of the Constitution,” he said.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said Sokha has the right to ask the court to drop the charges, but the decision rests with the court which will rule on the case based on facts.

“This request is his right, but he has to go through further proceedings and show a solid foundation for the charges to be dropped. This keeps to legal procedure,” he said.

Sokha’s trial on “conspiracy with foreigners” has been temporarily suspended by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court since March due to Covid-19.

His lawyer Chan Chen said on Wednesday that so far nothing has changed with the court continuing to suspend the trial.

Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Political analyst Em Sovannara said Sokha wanted to commemorate his arrest and gauge public opinion. He claimed that Sokha recently visited the provinces to assess the limitation on his freedom in politics.

“His Facebook post cannot prompt the court to drop the charges against him because it has no effect either on the court or the ruling party. The ruling party wants only weak opponents,” he said.

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