Sokha’s lawyers decry question redundancy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kem Sokha leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after attending his hearing in January. Hong Menea

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on May 11 resumed the 39th hearing of former opposition leader Kem Sokha in his “treason” case. The hearing questioned him about the 2013 general election process, although some questions were not answered.

Plang Sophal, spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office, told The Post after the hearing that Sokha, former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was asked about the voter list, voter registration and the 2013 election results.

Meng Sopheary, one of the defence lawyers, told reporters outside the court that the prosecution – as well as the civil party lawyers – were asking the same questions that the investigating judge had already questioned Sokha about.

She said that Sokha did not answer some questions because he was not interested in reliving the past and wanted to find a solution in line with national reconciliation.

“There were some questions that the prosecution asked which repeated what the investigating judge and then the civil lawyers asked Sokha. The questions were the same as ones asked by the investigating judge. It’s not like the questioners did not know that they were repeating them – they just wanted to try to get the answers they wanted,” she said.

Sopheary noted that the former CNRP and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) already signed an agreement to end all issues relating to the 2013 election on July 22, 2014.

“The accusation of Sokha conspiring with foreign powers [to topple the government] affects international relations. This accusation is the opposite of what the government has tried to do to build and maintain for the benefit of the Cambodian people and society,” she said.

She also noted that some of the video presented as evidence had been digitally stamped with an incorrect date and location. One video, she said, claimed to show Sokha in Kampong Speu province on August 6, 2013, though Sokha had confirmed that he was not there that day.

Regarding the defence’s attempt to request that representatives of more than 30 countries and international organisations testify, Sopheary said she had not yet submitted a letter to the court requesting the summons, as she was waiting for detailed discussions first.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 18.