No Clarification on Whom Kem Sokha Allegedly Conspired With

2 min read
A propaganda video produced by a government agency in 2017 alleged Kem Sokha, pictured here with former U.S. ambassador William Todd, was colluding with the U.S. to overthrow the Hun Sen administration. (PQRU)

Prosecutors and government plaintiff lawyers declined to specify a country, organization or individual behind opposition leader Kem Sokha’s alleged “conspiracy with a foreign power” during his trial hearing on Wednesday.

Sokha’s trial continued at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, and defense lawyers raised Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent speech claiming that the government had not specified that Sokha colluded with the U.S.

The opposition leader was arrested in September 2017 and charged with colluding with a foreign power to topple the government.

A day after the arrest, Hun named the U.S. as the country behind an alleged coup plot with Sokha.

“The Americans used to do it, this problem, with Lon Nol and now the American does this problem with Kem Sokha,” he said in September 2017.

Defense lawyer Meng Sopheary and Ang Udom asked prosecutors and government lawyers on Wednesday to reveal the identities of individuals and countries that participated in Sokha’s alleged plot.

Prosecutors and government lawyers, however, would not specify any country, organization or individual.

Prosecutor Plang Sophal said Sokha had said himself in a past speech that “foreigners” asked him to suspend his political activities to establish the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

Government lawyer Ly Chantola noted that some countries such as India and Indonesia had some involvement, but they were not being accused in Sokha’s conspiracy charge.

On Day 1 of the trial in 2020, government lawyer Ky Tech had suggested assigning Khmer-language letters for countries involved in the case, so as to maintain cordial relations with those nations. The countries on the list included the U.S., E.U., Yugoslavia, Serbia, Taiwan and India.

“The aim of using the characters is to keep good relations and cooperation between the Cambodian government and some other countries that are related to this case,” Tech said in 2020.

The trial is scheduled to continue on May 25.

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