Controversial Treason Trial Begins in Cambodia for Opposition Leader

Kem Sokha: Journalists turned away from Cambodia treason trial

Cambodia begins treason trial of Opposition Leader Kem Sokha as criticism mounts

A Human Rights Watch official on Wednesday said the trial of a top Cambodian opposition leader on treason charges is "completely bogus".

"My colleagues and I know that Kem Sokha's case is one about politicians' differing points of view, and needs to be solved through political means", he said, alluding to a past political settlement that ended a civil war with the communist Khmer Rouge.

Mr Sokha's lawyers have asked for the full, hour-long version to be shown.

The court resumed the hearing Thursday morning, with the proceedings also discussing Kem Sokha's activities from 1993 to 2007.

Kem Sokha was arrested in 2017 and his opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was banned ahead of a 2018 election in which the party of longtime leader Hun Sen won all the parliamentary seats.

But, she said, the video, which was the basis for the charge, could not be used to prove an attempted revolution because there were no "actual" activities to support the claim. Ky Tech did not specify whether the court plans to summon representatives of those countries to appear at the trial. He maintains his innocence and his lawyers have said that prosecutors lack evidence to convict.

Many other opposition figures have fled into exile and have accused Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for 35 years, of establishing a one-party state.

Tech said Sokha's case of conspiracy with a foreign power involved nine countries, certain NGOs and foreign individuals.

He said he had not engaged with foreign state actors to "conduct hostility or [an] invasion" against Cambodia, and that he "did not commit anything of which I am accused"-particularly acts that would be detrimental to the national interest".

The EU, which accounts for almost half of Cambodia's exports, will decide in February whether to remove Cambodia from its Everything But Arms trade scheme over the crackdown on political expression.

Just days before the start of the trial, the court announced that only a small group of people would be allowed inside the courtroom, meaning that most observers - including most journalists - had to wait outside.

Many in the region have spoken out against the trial.

Cambodia's opposition leader Kem Sokha talks to the media at his home before leaving for the court hearing in Phnom Penh, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020.

"We also call on the court to record and broadcast the trial proceedings live, as they have done in the past", it said, citing "significant public interest" at home and overseas.

"There is only one solution: The court must drop charges against Kem Sokha". In the speech, he talked about receiving support from the U.S. to create change in the country from a grassroots level. It has been monitoring the human rights situation here for a year, and is demanding that charges against Kem Sokha be dropped.

Hun Sen consolidated its control over power after Kem SokhaArrest, dissolving the CNRP, prohibiting its members of politics and inciting high-level opposition politicians to flee overseas.

While preferential access to Western markets is essential for some sectors, the kingdom's economy has been pumped up on Chinese investment and soft loans - delivered without questions over rights and democracy. "But they should have arranged something so that the people can see and hear what's happening inside the courtroom", said Am Sam Ath, deputy director of monitoring at the Cambodian human rights NGO Licadho.

Kem Sokha's treason charges stem from accusations that he was conspiring with the United States to overthrow Hun Sen.

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