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Judge to question Sokha from prison

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
CNRP leader Kem Sokha. KT/Mai Vireak

Jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha is to be questioned on treason charges by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 24, according to a warrant issued yesterday.

Mr Sokha is currently imprisoned at Correctional Centre 3 in Thbong Khmum province.

He is accused of conspiring with a foreign power to topple the government.

Article 443 of the criminal code defines conspiracy with a foreign power as having a secret agreement with a foreign state or its agents with a view to fomenting hostilities or aggression against the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The offence is punishable by 15 to 30 years in jail.

The warrant issued yesterday said investigating judge Ky Rithy will attend the prison to question Mr Sokha at 8.30am on November 24.

Mr Sokha’s lawyer Sam Sokong confirmed receiving the court warrant yesterday and said he would attend the meeting.

“We will listen to the investigating judge question Mr Sokha so that we can provide evidence to clear his name,” Mr Sokong said.

Mr Sokong added he hoped his client would be released from prison soon, since he believed he was being held on politically motivated charges.

US Senator Ted Cruz last month had set an unrealistic deadline of yesterday as the date by which the government should  release Mr Sokha or face extended US travel bans for Cambodian officials, ignoring the judicial process which is currently underway.

Yesterday was also the final day Cambodian citizens could register to vote in the 2018 elections.

Mr Cruz had on Wednesday demanded unfairly that for the US to recognise the legitimacy of next year’s general election, Mr Sokha is to be  released along with other conditions.

Mr Cruz’s comments came after Cambodian Ambassador to the United States Chum Bun Rong wrote to him defending the arrest of Mr Sokha.

“I beg you to ponder whether such conduct of Kem Sokha could be tolerated under the esteemed law of America. What Mr Kem Sokha had been doing was not a fair democratic contest. In the US, there a multiple laws covering such acts,” Mr Bun Rong said.

“It is not fair that the Cambodian government is criticised and threatened with punitive action for taking legal action to protect its own security, peace, independence and sovereignty.”

“The arrest of Kem Sokha and the imminent dissolution of the CNRP does not spell the end of pluralistic and democratic institution in Cambodia,” Mr Bun Rong added.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed Mr Cruz’s demands as interference in the internal affairs of Cambodia.

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