HRP President Is ‘Not Afraid’ of Court Case

Newly returned from a North American visit, Human Rights Party president Kem Sokha said yesterday he had every intention of attending his Oct 21 court date to face questioning over breach of trust allegations.

Mr Sokha, the former head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, sounded confident about facing down the charges from his former employees at the CCHR.

“I am not afraid of this case,” said Mr Sokha, who returned Tuesday from a two-month trip to the US and Canada to meet with party supporters.

“The people will judge this case, and they will provide justice for me,” he added.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court last month agreed to delay the HRP president’s questioning, originally scheduled for Sept 6, until after his return.

Upon his return, Mr Sokha hinted at larger forces behind the case, but declined to elaborate.

“Everyone knows who is behind this case,” he said cautiously. “I do not want to accuse them of being in­volved with another political party yet.”

Current CCHR president Ou Vir­ak, however, had no such reservations.

Considering that four years have passed since Mr Sokha’s former employees filed their first complaint, and that there have been several intervening cases against SRP leaders, he suggested the ruling party might have dredged up the issue.

With local and national elections due in the next few years, he said, “I think the CPP took this opportunity to bring this case up.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan rejected the accusation, insisting that the case was a strictly “personal” matter between Mr Sokha and his former employees.

“It’s nothing involved with politics,” he said. “It’s not necessary for the CPP [to take action] against the HRP, because the HRP has very few seats in Parliament.”

Sixteen former CCHR employees filed a complaint against Mr Sokha in October 2006 alleging corruption and nepotism. They claim that in 2006 Mr Sokha dismissed a number of employees because he did not believe they were loyal to him, while retaining the services of his supporters and relatives.

The group also filed a separate defamation complaint against Mr Sokha over some of his public responses to their allegations. The court charged Mr Sokha with de­famation in August.

 

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