Trial chamber accepts new evidence against Kem Sokha

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Kem Sokha is driven to Phnom Penh Municipal Court to attend a hearing. Heng Chivoan

The president of the trial chamber has decided to accept additional exhibits submitted by the prosecutor in the treason case against Kem Sokha.

Defence lawyers criticised the decision to accept the evidence, claiming that filing exhibits, once the trial is underway, is against the law.

In February, the prosecutors requested that seven video clips and six transcripts be added as evidence to be used against Sokha, who has been charged with conspiring with a foreign power.

They said the exhibits were filed in response to a one-hour video submitted by Sokha’s lawyers.

The defence lawyers said they had never heard of a case in which the prosecutor incorporates additional exhibits after the case is sent to trial, adding that it was the first time in Cambodian history that this happened.

Trial chamber president Judge Koy Sao said on Wednesday that the acceptance of the exhibits against Sokha was in line with Article 321 of the Criminal Code.

Judge Sao said in criminal cases, exhibits could be filed at any time, as long as they were accurate.

Sokha’s lawyer Chan Chen said the prosecutor can only file exhibits during the investigation phase. The acceptance of the exhibits means that there was insufficient evidence to charge Sokha during the trial.

Rebutting his argument, prosecutor Phlong Sophal claimed there was already plenty of evidence to charge Sokha.

“I have been working as a prosecutor for 15 years. I know how to do my job. The remarks by Kem Sokha’s lawyers are disrespectful,” he said.

In the afternoon, Judge Seng Lean questioned Sokha about a meeting with Sam Rainsy. The judge asked Sokha why he collaborated with Rainsy, who, at the time, was already a convicted criminal.

Sokha told the court that back then, there was no law against politicians meeting with people who have been convicted of a crime. He said he may agree with the ideas of a convict, but he would never join him or her in conducting violent acts.

“I always say that individuals who adopt a violent and revolutionary attitude should stay away from me and the Cambodia National Rescue Party, even if the individual in question used to work with me,” he said.