A hearing on former opposition president Kem Sokha’s continued detention on treason charges will be held on Thursday in Tboung Khmum province’s Trapeang Phlong prison.
Investigating Judge Ky Rithy issued a letter to inform Mr Sokha and his defence lawyers that Phnom Penh Municipal Court would on Thursday visit him in prison for a hearing on whether to extend his pre-trial detention by another six months, or possibly release him on bail.
Mr Sokha was jailed in September on the treason charges after being accused of colluding with the United States to overthrow the government. His pre-trial detention has been extended once already.
Mr Sokha’s lawyers Chan Chen and Pheng Heng said yesterday that they are ready to deliver their argument to release Mr Sokha, who has been behind bars for nearly one year.
The municipal court has summoned several witnesses as part of its investigation into the accusations, but has failed to produce any substantial evidence, Mr Chen said.
“There is no evidence and no witness could give a clear statement to prove my client plotted a coup,” he said. “I hope the judge would consider this and release him on bail.”
Mr Chen noted that Mr Sokha was well-behaved in prison and had no plans to lead a protest if released.
Political analyst Kim Sok said yesterday there is a high chance the government will give in to international pressure and release Mr Sokha, who would be placed under strict house arrest.
“I think the government will release Kem Sokha before or after Prime Minister Hun Sen delivers his speech at the UN General Assembly next month in order to put forward the idea that Cambodia is a democratic country,” Mr Sok said. “But Sokha could be placed under house arrest so that he could be jailed again if he went against the government following his release.”
Mr Sokha’s charges stem from a 2013 video of him saying that the US was assisting his political career.
The Supreme Court last week denied bail to Mr Sokha for a second time on grounds that his release could lead to social upheaval.