Kem Sokha Questioned Over Violent Protest

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha was questioned by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday over an opposition protest that erupted into violence on July 15 and provided a pretext for the court to charge seven opposition lawmaker-elects and a party activist with insurrection and incitement to commit a felony.

The eight CNRP officials were arrested in the days following the protest and released on bail Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy struck a deal for the opposition to end its boycott of the National Assembly.

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha speaks to reporters Friday after being questioned in court. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha speaks to reporters Friday after being questioned in court. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Outside court Friday morning, Mr. Sokha told reporters he was questioned for about 15 minutes by investigating Judge Keo Mony.

Mr. Sokha said he told the judge that he was in Kompong Cham province on July 15 and had no role in the demonstration, in which protesters violently retaliated against uniformed men sent in to break up a protest to “free the Freedom Park.”

“[Judge Mony] did not charge me and the police also did not accuse me,” Mr. Sokha said. “They just called me for questioning because I am the leader and a witness.”

Judge Mony could not be reached for comment. Municipal court director Ang Mealatey declined to talk about the case.

Though charges against the CNRP officials have not been dropped, Prum Sokha, a CPP secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said on Tuesday that the lawmakers-elect would be given retroactive immunity from prosecution if they swear in as members of the National Assembly.

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