Cambodia Readies Third Mass Trial of Opposition Officials

As the country heads toward national elections next year, the government is seeking to neutralize the influence of opposition leaders living in exile abroad.

Cambodia’s government is gearing up to hold another mass trial of opposition activists and government critics, as the country moves toward national elections next year. On Monday, the local media outlet VOD English reported that 34 people have been charged with plotting against the government, in connection with a failed attempt of exiled opposition figure Mu Sochua to return to the country in 2020.

All of the 34 are former leaders or supporters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was banned in 2017, after scoring significant gains at a national election in 2013. Among those charged are eight prominent exiled CNRP leaders, including the party’s former president Sam Rainsy and former vice president Mu Sochua, who have both already been convicted multiple times on a variety of charges. The case will also involve several CNRP activists who are already in prison.

VOD cited defense lawyer Sam Sokong as saying that the charges related to Mu Sochua’s attempt to return to Cambodia in 2020 to face trial in a separate trumped-up case against her, which the government has characterized as a plot to to overthrow the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

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