Kem Sokha’s treason trial hearing on Wednesday was cut short by a judge after the prosecution and defense lawyers disputed each others’ behavior and tactics in court.
The CNRP leader is being tried at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over treason charges, where Sokha is accused of attempting to overthrow the government with the help of foreign powers. The trial was in its 51st hearing on Wednesday.
As the trial resumed, Sokha and prosecutor Plang Sophal sparred over the latter’s accusation that he was linked to the activities of informal worker association leader Vorn Pov and a garment worker general strike occurring at the same time as post-election CNRP protests contesting the 2013 election results.
Sophal said that if Sokha had not committed the activities he was being accused of he would not be in court.
“That is why it is your fate to have to sit in the court’s docket like this,” Sophal said.
Sokha took umbrage with the comment and said they were the worst words he had heard and were unethical and insulting.
“It seems too bad that you wear these clothes [of a prosecutor]. Please use a few proper words,” Sokha said.
As the two continued their verbal altercation, Meng Sopheary, a defense lawyer, said the prosecutor’s conduct was affecting her client’s rights and his use of words to make it sound like he was prematurely pronouncing Sokha as guilty.
As tensions increased, judge Koy Sao decided to end the trial 30 minutes early because the trial was not progressing.
“Today, I think it seems it is not moving forward. The court will close the trial at this time and will continue on Wednesday next week,” Sao said.
The trial will resume on August 17.