Opposition leader Kem Sokha made another call to find a resolution to his treason trial, adding that efforts to keep him away from politics could render upcoming elections not free and fair.
Sokha is facing treason charges at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in a trial that has gone on for more than two years because of the Covid-19 outbreak. He is accused of colluding with foreign powers to orchestrate a color revolution in the country.
Speaking outside his residence prior to Wednesday’s hearing, Sokha said he believed that dialogue was possible and a resolution could be found — in a similar way to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s suggestions of pursuing talks in conflict-ridden Afghanistan and Myanmar.
“I am ready and I am ready to talk for the main benefit of the nation and of the people to push the multi-democratic process in line with Cambodia’s Constitution,” he told reporters.
He also questioned the use of audio clips, photos and videos of him meeting foreign dignitaries and diplomats in the case, arguing that these individuals were recognized by the Cambodian government and that he did not work with any foreigners to destroy the country.
“I am ready to work with each other. The first step is to solve my problems. Second, to organize a better situation to participate in the election process together. Third, we prepare the successor for effectiveness in the country’s future leadership,” he said.
At the trial hearing on Wednesday, eight pieces of evidence from the defense were put before the court, including a CNRP letter about peaceful demonstrations at Freedom Park in 2013 — before the park was relocated to the city’s outskirts — a joint statement from the CPP and CNRP responding to an appeal by the king to resolve the political stalemate, and a 2015 statement about the two parties’ culture of dialogue.
Two other pieces of evidence were read out in their entirety. They were a preelection voter registration report from election watchdog Comfrel and a report on election irregularities by rights group Licadho.
The defense team said these pieces of evidence showed there were irregularities during the election, giving the CNRP grounds to protest.
“We want to clarify that CNRP protests are all with [reasons],” said defense lawyer Meng Sopheary.