Kem Sokha’s defence lawyers yesterday walked out of the court in the protest for being not allowed to discuss a piece of evidence which they alleged was incorrect.
The evidence presented during the trial yesterday was a joint statement made by Sokha and Sam Rainsy when the Human Rights Party and Sam Rainsy merged to form the CNRP in 2012.
Sokha’s four defence lawyers said the reference code of the evidence on the copy of the joint statement given to them did not match with the one on the prosecutor’s copy and that of the judge’s copy.
During the trial, judges questioned Sokha’s lawyers as to why they brought up such a trifling issue, noting that they could prolong the trial.
The defense lawyers in response said they wanted to follow the procedures and ensure the trial, including all evidence, complied with legal procedures.
Co-deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal and government lawyers told the judges that Sokha’s lawyers wanted the trial to drag on and that they should be blamed for not having the evidence checked in advance.
Judge Koy Sao ordered one of Sokha’s lawyers, Ang Odom, to sit down and not to speak after they repeatedly raised the same issue.
“We are asking you to sit down. If you don’t know the procedures, then you can go to the ECCC,” Judge Sao said to Mr Odom, who previously worked at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
Sokha’s defence lawyers then began to pack up their belongings and walked out the courtroom, leaving Sokha alone.
“You [judges] asked us to speak today about the evidence, but you do not allow us to speak,” Meng Sopheary said before the walkout.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Ms Sopheary said her team has the right to walk out because they were barred from speaking out to back up their argument.
Judge Sao said the attitude of Sokha’s lawyers was impolite.
“When we brought all the evidence to be verified, they walked out. This is rude,” Judge Sao said.
He then ordered the court clerk to bring the original copy of evidence, along with the investigating judge, into the courtroom to prove that all the evidence was accurate.
Judge Sao ruled that all the evidence was matched with the one included in the investigating judge’s file.
Sokha stood up and said the document his lawyers had was missing the reference code.
Judge Sao then asked Sokha if he wanted to continue or postpone the hearing.
Sokha, who is on trial for allegedly conspiring with the US to topple the government through a colour revolution, said he wants a delay and his lawyers should show up in court for the next hearing.
The trial will continue on February 26.