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Judge questions Sokha from jail

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Former opposition leader Kem Sokha. KT/Chor Sokunthea

A judge from Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday questioned former opposition leader Kem Sokha on treason charges for conspiring to topple the government with a foreign power.

Sous Vichearandy, deputy secretariat of administration at the court, said investigating judge Ky Rithy questioned the former CNPR leader at Correctional Centre 3 in Tbong Khmum province.

“He is continuing to question him at CC3,” Mr Vichearandy said.

Mr Sokha was arrested on September 3 after video footage from Australia-based CBN news was posted to Facebook, appearing to show Mr Sokha saying the US government had been helping him to push for regime change in Cambodia since 1993.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has since accused the US of being a “third hand” that was providing assistance to the CNRP to invoke regime change in Cambodia.

Hem Socheat, one of five lawyers for Mr Sokha, said the investigating judge spent about seven hours questioning his client on charges of conspiring with a foreign power under article 443 of the criminal code.

“The judge questioned him on his connections with the United States and the National Democratic Institute, as well as what they charged him with under article 443,” Mr Socheat said.

“My client answered the same as he has before, saying what he did was to promote human rights, democracy and the development of the country,” Mr Socheat added.

Former CNRP lawmakers, self exiled NGO officials and opposition supporters on Sunday gathered with hundreds of Cambodian-Americans from 30 states in front of the White House in Washington DC.

They carried banners reading “Free Sokha” and chanted “we want democracy in Cambodia”.

Patrick Murphy, deputy assistant US secretary of state, met with Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, earlier this week.

Mr Murphy called on the government to reverse steps that “backtracked on democracy” before the general election next year, urging the reinstatement of the opposition CNRP party and the release of Mr Sokha.

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.

If convicted of the offence, Mr Sokha faces 15 to 30 years in jail.

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