The head of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday told VOA Khmer that the long-awaited Kem Sokha treason trial will take three months to complete, with the court holding two hearings every week.
The trial for opposition leader Kem Sokha will commence on Wednesday and while a schedule for the trial only lists January 15 and 16 for hearings, Phnom Penh Municipal Court President Taing Sunlay said that the trial was an “important story” and would need three months to finish.
“Since it is an important story, so we plan to have up to three months of trial. We plan to choose Wednesday and Thursday every week,” Taing Sunlay said.
The prolonged trial would take it past the February 12 deadline for the European Commission to submit its final report on whether to suspend the ‘Everything But Arms’ trade preferences. The release of Kem Sokha and reinstatement of the CNRP have been flagged as major concerns by the economic bloc.
Taing Sunlay was responding to questions from VOA Khmer reporters inquiring about why independent journalists were not being allowed to register for the January 15 hearing, with court officials giving preference to embassies and members of small political parties.
Court officials on Tuesday said at least 20 seats had been assigned to embassies in the courtroom that holds at least 30 people. However, officials are providing conflicting information about the attendees at the court.
“Maybe there are no journalists,” said Taing Sunlay. “They are full already. We have no choice.”
Chan Chen, part of Kem Sokha’s legal team, said they were unaware of how long the trial would take and were focused on preparing for hearings on Wednesday and Thursday.
Justice Ministry spokesperson Chin Malin did not respond to requests for comment.