Kem Sokha Trial to Resume in January

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CNRP president Kem Sokha leaves the Phnom Penh Muncipal Court on February 5, 2020 (Panha Chorpoan/VOD)
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The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summoned former CNRP president Kem Sokha to resume his treason trial on January 19 after two years of delays blamed on Covid-19. 

Court deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal issued a summons to the opposition leader to resume hearings on his charges of “conspiracy with foreign power.” The document, dated Monday but publicized on Tuesday, emphasized that Sokha’s attendance is mandatory.

Sokha’s trial began in January 2020, but the hearings were paused in March 2020 due to concerns about Covid-19. 

Reached by VOD on Tuesday, Sophal said he did know yet how much longer the trial would last. 

“The proceedings continue as the previous hearings have not yet ended, and [the length] depends on the speed of the proceedings,” he said.

Sokha’s lawyers Meng Sopheary and Chan Chen did not answer the phone on Tuesday afternoon.

Sokha’s previous trial hearings have debated whether foreign support helped Sokha launch the Human Rights Party and later merge with the Sam Rainsy Party to form the CNRP, which made major gains during the 2017 commune elections before being dissolved. His lawyers urged the court to restart trials throughout last and this year. 

The party leader was arrested in September 2017 over treason allegations, and the Supreme Court dissolved his party a little over two months later. He was released into a restrictive house arrest in September 2018 and later allowed to leave his house — but was banned from leaving the country or conducting political activities. 

Sokha and 117 other senior CNRP officials were banned from politics by the Supreme Court for five years, and positions of former opposition officials from the grassroots to the senate have been revoked. 

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