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Korm quizzed in Sokha treason case

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Kong Korm speaks to reporters outside the court yesterday. KT/Mai Vireak

Kong Korm, a former CNRP top adviser, yesterday appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court to be questioned as a witness in the treason case against former opposition leader Kem Sokha.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Korm said Judge Ky Rithy asked him to describe his political life and the cause of the merger between the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party to form the Cambodian National Rescue Party.

“I told the judge that I only knew the fact that Mr Sam Rainsy and Mr Kem Sokha desired to form the CNRP in order to gain support and compete in the election against the ruling CPP,” he said.

Mr Korm said he told the judge that he was just an advisor to the party, unlike Mr Rainsy, who knew all inner strategies when he was the party president.

“I said I had no idea about the relations Sokha had with foreigners,” he added. “I was surprised to see the video the judge showed me…The dealings between Sokha and any foreigners, I had no clue.”

Mr Sokha’s charge stems from a 2013 video in which he is shown saying that the US assisted in planning his political career.

Following his arrest in September 2017, the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP and banned 118 of its senior members from politics for five years.

Mr Korm and his son Kong Bora last week had their bans lifted after they made a request to the Interior Ministry, following the amendment of the Law on Political Parties.

Mr Korm said he also told the court that only Mr Rainsy could answer all related questions in the treason case against Mr Sokha.

Municipal court spokesman Ly Sophanna declined to comment.

Mr Rainsy had earlier vowed to appear in a video conference as a witness to the case, noting that he had all details that the judge wanted because he and Mr Sokha were decision makers of the CNRP.

On January 21, supporters of the former opposition party in the United States issued a five-point strategy to decide on and ensure the safe return of Mr Rainsy to Cambodia.

Long Ry, a former CNRP lawmaker, said in a Facebook post yesterday that the working group is now setting a strategy plan to pave the way for Mr Rainsy to return to Cambodia at an appropriate time.

“We know that our supporters, activists, and party officials are waiting for Mr Rainsy to return to the country,” he said. “It is an important event that requires an appropriate time to accomplish.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Mr Rainsy’s return is an individual decision, given the fact that his leaving was also his own choice.

“His return, under any means, if related to political activities of the dissolved CNRP will be considered as an act against the judicial body in Cambodia,” he said. “In this context, if there is any order from the court, the Royal Government will be effectively working on this issue in accordance with the law.”

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