Authorities in three different provinces yesterday confiscated banners demanding the release of opposition CNRP leader Kem Sokha, who remains jailed on treason charges after being denied bail.
Mr Sokha’s lawyers meanwhile announced a plan to ask the Supreme Court to review the Appeal Court’s decision to deny their client bail on Tuesday.
CNRP vice president Mu Sochua said banners the party put up demanding their leader’s release were torn down by authorities in Kandal, Mondulkiri and Kampot provinces.
“In Kampot province they stole our banner, in Mondulkiri they ordered us to take it down and in Kandal they questioned us,” she said.
The party announced a campaign on Monday to display banners demanding Mr Sokha’s release, despite warnings from Prime Minister Hun Sen that the party was protecting a traitor and could be dissolved for doing so.
“We already put the banners at party offices throughout the country in 25 provinces and cities. The police told us to withdraw the banners because they got the order from their bosses,” Ms Sochua said.
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.
Yesterday the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, called on the authorities to do more to protect human rights in the country.
“The political situation remains tense, particularly between the governing Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party,” she said.
Mr Sokha’s defence lawyer Sam Sokong said yesterday the jailed leader’s legal team will tomorrow file a complaint to the Supreme Court over the Appeal Court’s decision to deny bail.
“Kem Sokha already asked us to file a complaint to the Supreme Court because he does not accept the Appeal Court’s decision,” said Mr Sokong.
The Appeal Court denied bail to Mr Sokha on Tuesday.
His lawyers argued his right to a fair trial was being trampled, walking out of the courtroom because Mr Sokha was not transported from CC3 prison in Tbong Khmum province to Phnom Penh to attend the hearing.
Prison officials claimed his presence could be a security risk, while court officials said his attendance was not necessary for what was only a bail hearing.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the confiscation of the CNRP banners was justified.
“The banners affect public order,” he said.