Briefs: Muslim Leader Replaces Hun Neng, Kem Sokha Trial

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Sles Punyamin greets members of the National Assembly on Wednesday, where he was confirmed as the new Kampong Cham lawmaker, replacing Hun Sen’s late brother Hun Neng. (National Assembly)
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Sles Punyamin, a provincial Muslim youth leader in Kampong Cham, has been selected to be a lawmaker in the National Assembly to replace Prime Minister Hun Sen’s late brother Hun Neng.

A statement issued by the National Assembly on Wednesday said the legislative body had approved Punyamin as a CPP member of the assembly for Kampong Cham in a morning session.

Sok Preyhane, an Islamic teacher and Muslim youth leader in the neighboring Tbong Khmum province, said Punyamin was active in the Muslim community in Kampong Cham, including as part of the Cambodian Muslim Youth Alliance and the provincial branch of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia.

Hun Sen’s older brother Neng died last Thursday aged 72 from heart disease.

Separately, the National Assembly on Wednesday also selected lawmaker Kep Chuktema, a former Phnom Penh governor, to the assembly’s interior and public functions committee, while lawmaker Khem Chan Kiri was selected to the public works committee.

Chuktema was the capital’s governor from 2003 to 2013, presiding over the filling in and violent evictions of Boeng Kak lake and various infrastructure developments.

— Chhorn Raksmey

Kem Sokha Lawyer Says International Relations Affected by Trial

A defense lawyer for on-trial opposition leader Kem Sokha said on Wednesday that the ongoing treason charge against Sokha is affecting the government’s relationships internationally.

Speaking to reporters outside the court after a morning trial session, defense lawyer Meng Sopheary alluded to the E.U.’s recent statement that it could completely withdraw preferential trade benefits due to ongoing rights violations in the country.

“First, for example with the EBA, if the relationship is shaky the benefit of our people will be lost. I have such worries,” Sopheary said. “If such an effect happens, ask who will take responsibility.”

Sopheary spoke after a 39th hearing into Sokha’s case, during which the prosecutor and the government lawyers raised questions that had already been asked by the investigating judge, according to the defense lawyer.

Sokha did not respond to some questions as he did not want to repeat previous answers, Sopheary said.

The questioning related to an agreement between Sokha’s CNRP and the ruling CPP in July 2014 to resolve election issues, she said.

Last week, the EU Parliament passed a resolution asking the economic bloc to monitor the June and 2023 elections, and suggested a full EBA suspension if the ballot was not free and fair.

— Ouch Sony

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