Defense: Videos Show Kem Sokha’s Nonviolent Stance

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Opposition leader Kem Sokha leaves the Phnom Pen Muncipal Court on February 27, 2020 (Ouch Sony/VOD)

Defense lawyers in the treason trial of opposition leader Kem Sokha presented videos in court on Wednesday that they said were evidence he had only pushed people to have their voices heard through elections.

Sokha’s defense has submitted 28 pieces of evidence to the court. Six of them — all videos — were shown at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday.

Dating from 2012 to 2017, the year he was arrested and his main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party dissolved, the videos showed Sokha meeting with supporters in Phnom Penh, Kampot, Takeo and Kampong Cham.

They largely showed him calling for unity among Cambodian people and to not consider any Cambodians as enemies — even if the CNRP won an election.

“If the CNRP is to win, it will win through elections and not through any illegal overthrow,” Sokha says in one of the videos, from Takeo.

Another video shows Sokha at a workers’ protest in Kampong Cham.

Defense lawyer Meng Sopheary told the court that this video was to show that her client had participated but was not leading the strike.

Deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal, however, stood up and accused Sokha of leading the demonstration. After some arguing, Sokha also stood up.

“I participated but I did not lead. The participation was in line with a democratic society and as the role of a lawmaker,” he said.

Sopheary, the defense lawyer, argued with each video that they showed the real intentions of her client. Sokha had always refrained from violence, she said.

Some of the videos were only played as audio, leading to objections from the prosecution.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Sopheary said the defense had argued there was no attempt at an illegal overthrow of the government.

“Changing leaders through an election by the people and from the will of the people is not a toppling of the government or a color revolution. It is change in line with the law and our Constitution,” she said.

Presiding judge Koy Sao scheduled the next trial hearing for February 9.

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