Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday that the treason case against opposition leader Kem Sokha would not be dropped and would continue in line with court procedures.
“No charge will be dropped. That is a matter for the court, which has already charged [him],” Hun Sen said in a speech at a graduation ceremony. “We don’t have the right to interfere.”
Amid international pressure, Sokha was released from de facto house arrest on November 10 and the investigation into his case closed on Friday, leaving prosecutors to request a trial.
He faces up to 15 years in prison for conspiracy with a foreign power after he was arrested in September 2017 for allegedly working with the U.S. to overthrow the government.
In response to criticism from rights groups and some Western states that the cases against Sokha and others in his CNRP have been political, the government has maintained that the courts have acted independently and in line with the law. Nevertheless, last week Hun Sen ordered the release on bail of more than 70 opposition supporters.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin said on Monday that there was no further update on Sokha’s case, while Sokha’s lawyer Meng Sopheary said she was awaiting further notification from the court.
Last week, the E.U. submitted a report on potentially suspending Cambodia’s duty-free access to the bloc over political and human rights concerns, demanding “real and credible” improvement. The E.U. is Cambodia’s largest export market, accounting for about $5.8 billion in exports last year, according to the E.U.
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)