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Lawyer Wants Court to Summon Foreign Witnesses For Kem Sokha Trial


FILE: Kem Sokha, CNRP President, meets with British Ambassador, Tina Redshaw, at his house on 13th November, 2019. (Tum Malis/VOA Khmer)

Kem Sokha was arrested in September 2017, was in pre-trial detention till September 2018 and then placed in house arrest till November. In the last six weeks, the court has closed the investigation and sent the case to trial next month. 

A lawyer for Kem Sokha said the Phnom Penh Municipal Court should invite foreign witnesses to testify in Kem Sokha’s January 15 trial over treason charges.

Chan Chen, part of Kem Sokha’s legal team, said on Tuesday that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court should invite foreign witnesses to testify whether Kem Sokha was working with foreign governments. The opposition leader has been charged with using foreign assistance, especially the United States, to overthrow the government in a color revolution.

“So far, I have not seen the court summon any foreigners or foreign institutions at all,” Chan Chen said. “But we, Kem Sokha’s lawyers, want to see the court summon foreigners to be witnesses and prove [Sokha’s] innocence.”

Chan Chen, one of Kem Sokha's defend lawyers, spoke to reporters after the meeting between Ambassador of New Zealand and Kem Sokha, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Dec. 17, 2019. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
Chan Chen, one of Kem Sokha's defend lawyers, spoke to reporters after the meeting between Ambassador of New Zealand and Kem Sokha, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Dec. 17, 2019. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

Chan Chen said he was yet to discuss with his colleague if they would summon foreign witnesses to appear during the trial.

Kem Sokha was arrested in September 2017, was in pre-trial detention till September 2018 and then placed in house arrest till November. In the last six weeks, the court has closed the investigation and sent the case to trial next month.

U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh spokesperson Emily Zeeburg did not comment on the case. The U.S. has maintained that it wants Kem Sokha released and has rejected the government’s allegations.

Kuch Kimlong, spokesperson for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, refused to comment on the witnesses that had been summoned. So far two activists, Ma Chettra and Sar Sorn, have been summoned for the January 15, 2020 trial.

Ma Chettra, 28, told VOA Khmer that he was surprised after receiving the warrant and was confused how he was linked to the trial.

“I don't understand anything yet,” he said. “I never had any contact with [Kem Sokha] but if the court summoned me, I will follow it.”

Sor Sorn, a long-time land activist at Borey Keila community, has been part of the Black Monday protests organized by civil society, also characterized by the government as part of the color revolution.

“I think the court just wants to pressure citizens so that they will not dare to do any [activism] in their communities,” she said.

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