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Court Extends Pre-Trial Detention of Jailed Opposition Leader


FILE - Opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President Kem Sokha adressess party supporters during the party's political congress in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 2, 2017.

Kem Sokha was jailed in September on treason charges. More than two months later his party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was dissolved by the Supreme Court and more than 100 of its members were banned from politics for five years.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday extended the pre-trial detention period for Kem Sokha, the jailed leader of Cambodia’s former opposition party.

Sokha was jailed in September on treason charges. More than two months later his party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was dissolved by the Supreme Court and more than 100 of its members were banned from politics for five years.

Meng Sopheary, Sokha’s lawyer, said the judge had decided to extend Sokha’s incarceration beyond the legal six-month period to give the court more time to “collect evidence”.

FILE: Meng Sopheary, co-defense attorney of Kem Sokha, talks to reporters in front of Appeal Court after the bail request hearing on February 1st, 2018, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Khan Sokummono/VOA Khmer)
FILE: Meng Sopheary, co-defense attorney of Kem Sokha, talks to reporters in front of Appeal Court after the bail request hearing on February 1st, 2018, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Khan Sokummono/VOA Khmer)

"The decision to continue to detain our client is not acceptable because our client has a pinched blood vessel and other ailments that need treatment in Singapore," she said.

Ly Sophanna, court spokesman, said the case was under review.

On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he would not request a pardon in Sokha’s case as requested by members of the CNRP.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for Licadho, a local rights group, said the court should allow doctors to visit Sokha to determine if his health was at risk by continued detention.

"If we look at the health issues, we need to have a good examination of whether Kem Sokha is really in need of medical treatment or not. Health is very important.”

Sokha is being held at a prison in Thbong Khmum province and has not left the facility other than to attend a bail hearing last month, which was rejected.

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