CNRP Leaders, Members Convicted in Second Mass Trial Verdict

3 min read
Thirteen CNRP defendants in the CNRM trial arrive at court where they and eight others were convicted on Thursday. (Ouch Sony/VOD)

Twenty-one CNRP leaders and others linked to the party were convicted by a Phnom Penh court this morning for their involvement in the formation of the overseas CNRM opposition movement and for comments about the Covid-19 response.

Judge Ros Piseth announced the verdict this morning, handing 10-year jail sentences to seven party leaders and shorter suspended sentences to party members.

As the judge read out the verdict, defendants shouted and raised their hands, calling the decision unjust. CNRP activist Sun Thun said: “We’re innocent people. This is a political matter. It’s politically motivated.”

A small group of supporters outside the court also clashed with guards.

The case involves senior CNRP leadership, including Sam Rainsy, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhai Eang, as well as more junior members of the dissolved party. They were charged with incitement, plotting and incitement of the military to disobey orders.

The grounds for the case have spanned a long list of events such as Sam Rainsy’s planned 2019 return, comments about Covid-19 and the formation of an opposition movement overseas called the CNRM.

This is the second conviction in four mass trials being held against more than 150 defendants linked to the CNRP. Nine senior leaders were previously convicted for “attack” against the state and sentenced to at least 20 years each in prison.

A third mass trial with more than 40 defendants is underway and could be nearing completion, with a fourth case yet to resume following a suspension during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Seven party leaders received 10-year jail sentences on Thursday for incitement, plotting and inciting the military. The judge issues arrest warrants against the seven, who are overseas:

Sam RainsyEng Chhai Eang
Ho VannNut Romduol
Tioulong SaumuraMu Sochua
Tok Vanchan

Thirteen individuals, including party activists and a relative, were handed five-year sentences suspended to serve only three years and eight months for incitement and plotting. The charge of inciting the military against them was dropped:

Chhun BunchhatLong Phary
Khut ChroekSun Thun
Yim SarethKhim Pheana
Thai SokuntheaKeo Thai
Nhem VanChum Chan
Sok ChanthaPiet Mab
Ngin Phea*
*Named Ngin Kheang in court documents.

One defendant was convicted of incitement and plotting but had his entire five-year sentence suspended:

Hin Chhan
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Note: Some of the defendants’ names are spelled differently in court documents and others were corrected during the course of the trial.

Correction: One of the individuals convicted said during the trial that he worked for the Interior Ministry and was a member of the ruling party, not the CNRP. An earlier version of this article misstated that all defendants were CNRP leaders or activists.

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