Kem Sokha Warned Over Political Activities, but Arrest Request Denied

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Opposition leader Kem Sokha meets with supporters at his home in Phnom Penh on June 27, 2022. (Kem Sokha’s Facebook page)
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Phnom Penh Municipal Court judges have ruled that Kem Sokha will not be arrested for allegedly conducting political activity, after prosecutors asked for the opposition leader to be arrested for violating bail conditions by meeting his supporters.

Court prosecutors submitted a motion Wednesday morning to the panel of judges asking for Sokha to be sent to pretrial detention again. 

After a two-hour afternoon hearing, the court deliberated for 20 minutes and ruled that the opposition leader would not be arrested but warned him that if he repeated these activities they would issue an arrest warrant, according to defense lawyer Meng Sopheary.  The judge ruled that Sokha would not be allowed to conduct more gatherings, she said.

During earlier questioning over the prosecution’s request, Sokha said he was willing to follow the court’s instructions. “If the court thinks that what I’ve done in the past violates the court’s ban or requirements, I am willing to stay home and wait for the trial date and come to the court.”

In 2020, the court warned Sokha about violating his bail conditions after he was seen traveling to the provinces and meeting with small groups of people and supporters. He has also consistently met foreign ambassadors and visitors, though mostly at his home in Phnom Penh.

On Monday, Kem Sokha posted photos of supporters who visited the opposition leader’s home for his birthday. 

Kem Sokha was arrested on September 4, 2017, and held at the notorious Correctional Center 3 in Tbong Khmum province. He was released under court supervision that first placed him in effective house arrest, which was later eased to allow him to travel within the country but forbid him from engaging in political activity. 

He is still banned from politics by the 2017 Supreme Court order that dissolved the CNRP and banned 118 party members from the political arena for five years. The ban is expected to end in November 2022. He is being tried for treason in a trial that started in 2020.

Updated at 6 p.m. with Kem Sokha’s quote from the courtroom.

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