Slow Progress at Mass Trial as Judges Review Evidence Again

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Defendant Seng Chan Theary leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on March 28, 2022. (Ouch Sony/VOD)

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court reviewed evidence presented during a mass trial involving around 60 CNRP leaders, members and supporters who planned to support the return of former party president Sam Rainsy in 2019.

The court held a hearing in the prolonged trial on Monday. The case is a combination of two case files — combined early on in the trial to facilitate the hearings. Evidence was reviewed from one of the case files.

For more than two hours, the court watched videos from Rainsy speaking to supporters in the U.S. calling on supporters inside and outside Cambodia to support his planned return to the country in 2019. Related documents and statements were also displayed using a court projector.

“I believe that there will be a change in 2019 as people have wanted for a long time,” he said in one of the videos “We are determined that [we] have to change the dictatorship regime that destroyed the nation.”

These videos and documents were discussed in previous hearings and approved by the panel of judges last week. It was unclear why they were again part of the proceedings.

The court also displayed evidence against CNRP members and supporters, including their social media posts, where they expressed their support of Rainsy’s return to Cambodia — which eventually failed after the government banned neighboring countries from allowing the opposition leader to board a flight to Cambodia.

There was little cross questioning during the hearing. Seng Chan Theary, one of the defendants, questioned the combining of the two case files. Another defendant, Tum Bunthorn, said he was only waiting for Rainsy to return but that there was no attempt to collect people to greet the opposition leader.

The trial will resume on April 5, when remaining evidence from the second case file will be reviewed.

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