Court Sets Trial Date for Rally Outside Chinese Embassy

2 min read
Demonstrator Sath Pha sits on the ground crying after being carried away from the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh by security guards following a protest across the street on October 23, 2020 (Matt Surrusco/VOD)

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has set a July 1 trial date for incitement charges against nine defendants involved in a rally outside the Chinese Embassy last year.

According to a court document, the nine are Ho Vann, San Seihak, Hong An, Lim San, Yoy Srey Mom, Sat Pha, Pai Ren, San Srey Neat and Ton Nimol, who will face trial at the municipal court on July 1.

Defense lawyer Sam Sokong said the case related to a gathering in front of Chinese Embassy in October 2020. Protesters at the time sought to submit petitions to foreign embassies for the anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, which attempted to install multiparty democracy in Cambodia.

After the incident, Prime Minister Hun Sen accused Vann, a former opposition CNRP lawmaker, of paying the protesters from abroad. Hun Sen at the time also made an apparent threat against Vann’s family in the country.

Eight of the defendants had a first hearing in the trial last month. Six of the defendants were present and two at large.

San and Nimol are former commune councilors for the main opposition CNRP, which was outlawed by the Supreme Court in 2017.

Sokong said he would do his best to defend his clients, but the defendants in political trials had little chance.

“We have experienced that if it is a political matter, there is no justice,” Sokong said.

Phnom Penh court spokesperson Y Rin could not be reached for comment.

Am Sam Ath, a deputy director at rights group Licadho, said the courts were routinely being used in political matters. Those issues should be resolved politically instead, he said.

“I just hope that in relation to politics, all politicians should think about the greater national benefit and the greater benefit for the people first. We [should] solve it through dialogue between Khmer and Khmer,” Sam Ath said.

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