Cambodia condemns opponent Kem Sokha to 27 years in prison for betrayal

For rights for the defense of rights, the conviction of the Cambodian opposition chief is politically motivated. Washington denounces a “fabricated conspiracy”.

mo12345lemonde with AFP

Arrested in September 2017, Kem Sokha was accused of having wanted to overthrow the Cambodian government of Hun Sen, Prime Minister in power for decades. More than five years later, the verdict fell. The 69 -year -old opposition chief was sentenced on Friday March 3 to 27 years in prison on Friday, “for collusion with foreigners in Cambodia and elsewhere,” Koy Sao Judge at Phnom Penh told.

After the verdict, Kem Sokha was immediately taken from the courtroom to his home, where he will be under house arrest and where he will be prohibited from meeting anyone, with the exception of family members. He has one month to call on conviction and prison, told Ang Udom journalists, one of his lawyers.

Figure of the opposition and co -founder of the National Salvation of Cambodia (PSNC) party, now dissolved, Kem Sokha has always challenged the charges. The court also withdrew the right to vote for him and prohibited him from presenting himself to political functions, which prevents him from claiming in the national ballot of July 23. 2> a trial that dragged

“I cannot accept this judgment,” said Chea Samuon, a supporter of Kem Sokha, at the outside of the courtroom. “It is very unfair for him and for the people. He is not guilty, it is political pressure”.

The trial of Kem Sohka illustrated the “scary problem of state control over the judicial system in the country,” said executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Chak Sopheap.

The United States quickly reacted by the voice of its ambassador to Cambodia, present in court. The trial of Kem Sokha and his conviction are based on a “fabricated conspiracy” and constitute a “miscarriage of justice,” W. Patrick Murphy told journalists. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met Kem Sokha in Phnom Penh in August, said he was “disappointed” by the time taken from the legal proceedings “motivated by political reasons”. The trial of Kem Sokha has dragged, in particular because of the restrictions linked to the coronavirus which caused a postponement of the hearings of almost two years, until the resumption in January 2022.

decline in individual freedoms

According to his detractors, Hun Sen – the oldest leader in Asia – has retreated democratic freedoms, and Mr. Sokha’s condemnation is part of the wave of repression launched by the regime against the votes dissident, some of whom had to flee the kingdom for fear of being arrested and pursued in court. Last year, dozens of opponents, some linked to the PSNC, such as his former chief Sam Raininsy, who has lived in exile in France since 2015, were sentenced to prison terms during two mass trials denounced by the international community.

The PSNC had carried out a breakthrough in the 2013 elections, winning 55 seats out of 123, before being dissolved four years later by the country’s Supreme Court. In the ballot which had followed, in 2018, Hun Sen’s party had won all of the seats in the Parliament, of the highly disputed results.

In the absence of a visible opposition, the Cambodian leader, a veteran Khmer Rouge entered into dissent of the movement, who climbed the levels during the occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam, goes at 70 years to a new victory overwhelming in the legislative elections of July.

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the closure deemed arbitrary of one of the last media Independent of the kingdom, Voice of Democracy, mid-February, rekindled concerns around the holding of free and fair elections.

/Media reports cited above.