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Former CNRP lawmakers request Kem Sokha visit

May Titthara / Khmer Times Share:
Only lawyers and family have been allowed to visit Kem Sokha so far. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

A group of former opposition lawmakers on Tuesday sent a letter to Phnom Penh Municipal Court to request a visit with former CNRP leader Kem Sokha at Trapaing Plong prison tomorrow, but said they have yet to receive a response.

Former CNRP lawmaker Mao Monyvann said the letter was signed by five former lawmakers and 10 other colleagues.

It asked investigating judge Ky Rithy for authorisation to visit Mr Sokha.

Mr Monyvann said in the letter that some MPs and colleagues wanted to visit the jailed opposition leader to check on his health and discuss the current political situation.

“We haven’t received a response from the court yet,” Mr Monyvann said. “The reason we want to visit him is that we want to hear about his political ideas and policies, and report on recent political developments to him.

“Since his arrest, none of us could visit him, because the court only allows his family and lawyers,” he added.

Ly Sophana, a spokesman for the court, confirmed they received the letter and forwarded it to judge Rithy, but said he has yet to respond.

“We don’t know whether he will agree or not,” Mr Sophana said.

“The criminal procedure code does not say how many days are needed to respond to a request to visit detainees whose cases are still under investigation.”

In a letter dated October 23, Mr Sokha, who was jailed in September on treason charges filed by the government, called on Cambodians to “protect the Paris Peace Accords”, referring to the agreement that ended Cambodia’s long-running civil war in 1991.

On November 16, the Supreme Court dissolved the opposition CNRP following complaints filed by Funcinpec and the Cambodian Youth Party in the wake of Mr Sokha’s arrest. A total of 118 senior members of the party were also banned from politics for five years.

Since Mr Sokha’s arrest, opposition lawmakers have filed several requests to visit him, but the court has denied them all.

Lawyer Sok Sam Oeun said the law does not prevent people from visiting a detainee, regardless of the investigating judge’s decision. Only the prison director can make that choice if it relates to security.

“If the court prohibits former opposition members from visiting Mr Sokha, it means they restrict their freedoms,” he said.

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