Kem Sokha Lawyers Ask for Trial to Resume

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Kem Sokha leaves the Phnom Penh Muncipal Court in a vehicle on January 15, 2020 (Panha Chorpoan/VOD)

Lawyers for former CNRP president Kem Sokha have applied to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to resume his trial, more than six months after it was suspended out of concerns for Covid-19.

In a letter dated Monday and signed by Sokha’s four defense lawyers, the legal team asks for the trial to restart as soon as possible since the courts have been operating as normal again.

“The court is proceeding with trials as usual every day,” the letter says. “We ask the court to make the decision to continue the process of the trial.”

Chan Chen, one of Sokha’s lawyers, said it was the defense team’s second request to resume the trial.

Prolonging the suspension impacts Sokha’s rights, including his freedom of movement and access to health care, Chen said in a message.

Sokha, who was arrested in 2017 and accused of treason, has been released under court supervision preventing him from political activities and traveling outside the country. He has in the past requested permission to receive medical treatment abroad.

“This affects the right to receive a fair trial,” Chen said. “It’s been three years already, and it has been brought to [another] standstill.”

The first request to resume the trial, made in a letter dated June 17, was rejected by presiding judge Koy Sao. Sao said in a response letter on June 23 that the public health situation had not recovered enough for a trial that has regularly attracted 30 to 40 observers per hearing.

Court spokesman Y Rin said the court received the latest request on Monday morning, and the letter had been passed onto the judge for consideration. He said he was not sure how long it would take to reach a decision.

Government lawyer Ky Tech declined to comment over the phone.

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