Opposition leader Kem Sokha’s lawyers will today file a request to the Appeal Court warning that justice cannot served unless their client is present for his bail hearing tomorrow.
Their plea comes after the prison department last week claimed security and safety issues could arise if the CNRP leader was transported from CC3 prison in Tbong Khmum province to the court for the hearing.
Mr Sokha’s lead lawyer Sam Sokong said his client wants to be present for all court proceedings relating to his case.
“Mr Sokha’s presence at the Appeal Court is necessary,” Mr Sokong said. “If the court does not bring him to the hearing, that would be a serious violation of the rights of the accused and the hearing would be meaningless.”
“Without Mr Sokha’s presence, we will walk out of the hearing,” he added.
He said that defendants have the right to be present at all court hearings, so they can answer charges against them.
Mr Sokha has been charged with treason over comments made in 2013 video footage from Australia-based CBN news, which showed him saying the US government had been helping him to push for regime change in Cambodia since 1993.
Appeal Court deputy secretary-general Touch Tharith said the decision on Mr Sokha’s attendance was out of the hands of the court.
“We have no right to decide whether to bring him, it’s under the prison department,” he said. However, he told local media last week: “The Appeal Court is willing for Mr Sokha to attend, but without his presence, proceedings would not be affected, because it is only a bail hearing.”
General Department of Prisons spokesman Sorn Keo said officials were yet to receive any letter from Mr Sokha’s lawyers.