Attorneys for Kem Sokha are pressing for Phnom Penh Municipal Court to release Kong Korm’s questioning transcript in the former opposition leader’s treason case.
On January 23, former opposition adviser Mr Korm was questioned as a witness in Mr Sokha’s treason case.
Mr Korm was questioned about his political life and the motive behind the merger of the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party to form the CNRP in 2012.
Chan Chen, one of Mr Sokha’s attorneys, said yesterday that he has requested the transcript multiple times since Mr Korm was questioned, but his request has not been granted by Investigating Judge Ky Rithy.
“It is true that we are making the request to the judge,” Mr Chen said. “Based on the law, we have the right to request to see the answers provided by the witnesses.”
Mr Chen said Judge Rithy has not yet responded to his requests despite lawyers following up more than one time.
“We met the investigating judge for him to provide us a copy of the document, but he did not give it to us,” he said.
Judge Rithy could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin yesterday said though the defence team has the right to request for the transcript, a judge is not obliged to comply.
“In principal, a lawyer does have the right to make a request, and in principle, a judge should grant the request,” Mr Malin said. “But regarding requesting documents that could affect the ongoing investigation, we are obligated to reject the request.”
Mr Chen said regardless of the court’s decision, he will continue to request the transcript.
“Normally, whether a witness’ testimony is important or not, defence lawyers should be able to obtain the transcript,” he said. “We need this because we need to review and study the case.”
Mr Korm told the judge last month that he was only an adviser to the former opposition party, noting that former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy was the brains behind formulating internal strategies.
“I told the judge that I only knew that Mr Rainsy and Mr Sokha wanted to form the CNRP in order to garner support and stand a chance during the election against the ruling CPP,” he said. “I had no idea about Mr Sokha’s relations with foreigners. I was surprised to see the footage the judge showed me about the Mr Sokha’s foreign dealings – I had no clue.”
Mr Sokha is currently charged with treason for allegedly colluding with the United States to overthrow the government.
Mr Sokha’s arrest followed the dissolution of the CNRP and the banning of its 118 senior officials from politics for five years by the Supreme Court.
Mr Korm was among the 118 senior officials banned from politics, but following an amendment to the law on political parties, had his rights restored last month after filing a request with the Interior Ministry.
Mr Sokha was released on bail in September 2018 after more than a year in pre-trial detention, but is restricted to a four-block radius around his Phnom Penh home and is banned from meeting with ex-CNRP officials or individuals linked to his treason case.
If found guilty, Mr Sokha could be jailed for up to 30 years.