A Cambodian-American lawyer and dozens of members of a now-dissolved opposition party were convicted of treason Tuesday in a trial that is part of efforts to tame opposition to the long-running rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Lawyer Theary Seng and most of the other defendants were charged over a failed attempt by the leader of the defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party to return from exile in 2019. Cambodian authorities blocked Sam Rainsy’s return and alleged that the 60 defendants were involved in organizing his trip, which Theary Seng and the others have denied.
Cambodian courts are widely believed to be under the influence of Hun Sen, whose authoritarian rule has kept him in power for 37 years. The Cambodia National Rescue Party was his party’s biggest rival before it was disbanded by a court ruling just ahead of national elections in 2018 that resulted in a clean sweep by Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party.