Assembly to debate Sokha case

Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Assembly president Heng Samrin. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The National Assembly will hold a special session next week to debate whether to allow the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to proceed in its action against jailed opposition CNRP leader Kem Sokha.

The announcement came after the assembly’s permanent committee held a meeting on the issue yesterday.

Chheang Vun, spokesman for the National Assembly, told media that the permanent committee decided to hold an urgent meeting after one of their parliamentarians was arrested and charged with treason for conspiring with a foreign power.

“An extraordinary session will be held on Monday to vote for whether to stop or allow the court’s legal process,” Mr Vun said, adding the National Assembly could stop court procedures against Mr Sokha, but only if three quarters of the members voted to say so.

He said authorities and the municipal court had submitted reports to the National Assembly over the arrest and prosecution of Mr Sokha.

Mr Vun added the session will not discuss Mr Sokha’s parliamentary immunity because the case has been deemed a “flagrant crime”.

“The case was serious enough that the authorities could act against him despite his immunity,” he said.

CNRP party vice president Mu Sochua declined to comment on the impending session.

Meanwhile, Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday denied CNRP lawmakers permission to visit Mr Sokha in prison.

The court released a letter rejecting the request, citing the fact Mr Sokha’s case is still being processed and the investigating judge has not yet questioned him.

“Only lawyers and family members of the suspect will be able to visit,” the letter said.

Mr Sokha was on Tuesday charged by the municipal court with treason for conspiring with a foreign power after being questioned by a deputy prosecutor at Trapaing Phlong prison in Thbong Khmum province.

The offence is punishable by 15 to 30 years in jail.

The court released a statement defending the charge, claiming it was legal and followed procedures.

The case against Mr Sokha was based on video footage published by the Australia-based news outlet CBN and other evidence collected by police, it said.

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