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The prosecution and a judge in the Kem Sokha’s treason trial strongly hinted on Thursday that foreign assistance and funding was given to the opposition leader’s Human Rights Party, though providing little evidence to support the thinly-veiled suggestion.
More than two years after the main opposition party was dissolved and independent media were shuttered, rights group Amnesty International said civil and political rights, and press freedom in Cambodia remain severely constrained.
The Council of Judges asked opposition leader Kem Sokha Wednesday morning if he ran a “secret structure” of volunteers at the provincial offices of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, an allegation flatly denied by the defendant.
As opposition leader Kem Sokha’s treason trial enters its third week, observers and political analysts say even the commencement of the trial, setting aside questions about the charges, signals a further deterioration in Cambodia’s more than two-year long democratic backslide.
Two people arrested with Tuy Sros told VOA Khmer they saw military police personnel beat up the farmer mercilessly and refused to acknowledge his pleas for treatment.
The Cambodian Ministry of Health confirmed Monday evening the first case of the novel coronavirus in the country’s coastal province of Preah Sihanouk.
Cambodia continued to rank lowest compared to other Southeast Asia countries, according to a corruption index released by Transparency International on Thursday, ranking at 162 of 180 countries.
Opposition leader Kem Sokha said the United States government did not recommend he start a “Yugoslavia” style revolution in Cambodia and that the Cambodian Center for Human Rights was not used as a platform to instigate a grassroots uprising against Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The defense began the proceedings by detailing all 35 pieces of evidence. This included the one-hour video clip of his 2013 speech in Australia, which has already been admitted by the judges.
The defense said that two sections of the 1-hour video – one around 105 seconds and the other 31 seconds – had been edited together.
There were no reported cases of the novel coronavirus in Cambodia as of Monday, Ly Sovann said, but that health officials were on alert during the Chinese New Year holidays.
The experts said the trial had been “tainted” by the “clear neglect” of international, human rights and domestic laws. Kem Sokha faced up to 30 years if he is found guilty of conspiring with a foreign power.
The launch of the project was attended by Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona and U.S. Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy last Thursday. The U.S. ambassador said it was critical to preserve the “sacred objects”, which were visual reminders of the genocidal regime.
Yeang Sothearin agreed with his lawyer, saying that the elongation of the investigation period was only meant to burden him and Uon Chhin.
The report said there had been an increase in political prisoners, which is linked to the criminalizing of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, forcing its supporters and activists to live in fear or flee the country.
Kem Sokha also recounted that he questioned the court on his treason charge saying that the Criminal Code was enforced in 2010, but that his alleged crimes were, according to the court, dating back to 1993.
Journalists have so far relied on short comments from government and defense lawyers when the court is in recess, but have lacked a lot of critical details about the two days of hearings.
The court has resumed the trial hearing Thursday morning, where the judges will delve into Kem Sokha's work from 2008 till he was arrested in 2017.
Two and half years after he was first arrested, Kem Sokha will face a panel of three judges on a treason charge, widely considered to be frivolous.
After the two-minute edited clip was played in court, Kem Sokha, responding to queries from the panel of three judges, said that the video did not belong to him, but that he was the person who was speaking in the clip.