In a move that signals a significant escalation in the Cambodian government’s crackdown on the outlawed opposition party and dissent, a court has sentenced seven of its former officials for “plotting” in a case linked to their support of the unsuccessful return of self-exiled opposition figure Sam Rainsy in November 2019.
The Tbong Khmum Provincial Court sentenced five former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) officials to seven years in prison on Tuesday. Two of the dissidents were sentenced to five years. Family members of the defendants and the media were banned from the court proceedings, said Am Sam Ath, deputy director of Licadho, a local rights group.
All were convicted under Article 453 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, which defines conspiracy as “any scheme set up between several persons to commit a criminal attempt” and “materialized by one or several concrete actions.” It carries a punishment of five to 10 years imprisonment.