Briefs: CCHR Director to Appear at Sokha Trial, Arrested Vietnamese Sent to Court

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Kem Sokha waves to his supporters as he leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 13, 2022. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)

A prominent human rights advocate promised to stand for questioning this Wednesday as a witness in the case of ex-CNRP leader Kem Sokha, who has been charged with “conspiring with a foreign power.”

Cambodian Center for Human Rights executive director Chak Sopheap was named among witnesses in the former opposition party leader’s prolonged court case, which local and international human rights organizations have panned as politically motivated. Sopheap received a summons from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on September 28, 2022 to appear at the hearing on October 5 at 8:30 am.

In order to attend, Sopheap said she would cancel a work trip abroad to convene with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion, according to a September 30 CCHR statement.

“I will appear before the court to answer its questions truthfully and to the best of my knowledge and abilities,” Sopheap said. “I also encourage the court to speed up the proceedings and ensure that it complies with international fair trial rights standards and fully respects the rights of all witnesses and parties to the case.”

In its 58th hearing with Sokha, judges questioned the opposition leader over the training given to the disbanded CNRP by a Serbian group, which the government has previously accused of fomenting color revolution in eastern Europe.

Sopheap previously appeared for questioning as a witness by the Phnom Penh Municipal court’s investigative judge in May 2018, the statement added.

CCHR was founded in 2002 by Kem Sokha, who was a well-known human rights activist at the time. In early 2007, Sokha left the organization to pursue a political career. Since his departure, CCHR has undergone two leadership changes, with Chak Sopheap becoming executive director in 2014.

— Ouch Sony

Sixteen Siem Reap Arrestees Sent To Court

Sixteen people arrested as part of a raid on two Siem Reap buildings last week have been sent to court, authorities said Monday.

Provincial police detained 24 Vietnamese nationals last week as part of a broader crackdown on human trafficking and scam operations, investigating two Siem Reap buildings on suspicion of illegal detention and torture.

Sath Thyda, spokesperson for the provincial prosecutor’s office, said Monday that the office had “received the case and … already sent it to the investigating judge.” Court spokesperson Yin Sreang could not be reached for comment.

Siem Reap provincial police chief Teng Channath said “we have sent 16 people to the court regarding the case” but declined to comment further.

Channath referred questions about the remaining eight individuals arrested last week to deputy provincial police chief Touch Sokun, who could not be reached for comment.

— Mech Dara

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