Kem Sokha trial begins amid criticism over lack of transparency

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday began the trial of former opposition leader Kem Sokha on a charge of treason, with rights groups and journalists barred from the proceedings and the government seeking the suppression of the names of foreign states allegedly involved.

Sokha was arrested in September 2017 amid government pressure on the political opposition, NGOs and news media, and charged with conspiracy with a foreign power for allegedly working with the U.S. to topple the government. He faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty.

The court set up a registration process to select observers for the trial, but civil society officials and journalists were denied entry. Most available seats in the courtroom were given to foreign embassy officers. Reuters reported that “a few” reporters managed to enter the morning proceedings nevertheless.

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