Cambodian opponent Kem Sokha sentenced to twenty-seven years in prison

The ex-president of the country’s first opposition party waited for five years to be sentenced for betrayal and conspiracy, four months from the legislative elections.

by Brice Pedroletti (Bangkok, correspondent in Southeast Asia)

It is an understatement to say that Hun Sen, the unbeatable Cambodian Prime Minister, does not intend to take any risks when approaching the legislative elections of July 2023. Kem Sokha, the former human rights defender and chief chief of the political opposition in Cambodia, was sentenced on Friday March 3, by a court to orders, to twenty -seven years in prison for “betrayal and conspiracy for the benefit of a foreign power” – in this case the United States, even if they were not directly named.

The Municipal Court of Phnom Penh, however, allowed the 69-year-old politician to benefit from a residential assignment, without a visiting license other than family, the time that his call will last.

This verdict, which aroused strong criticism from human rights NGOs in Cambodia and around the world, closes a saga that began in September 2017 during the surprise arrest of Mr. Kem , then President of the National Rescue Party of Cambodia (PSNC), created in 2012 following the merger of its movement with that of the other historic opponent of the regime, Sam Raininsy, forced to exile by modifications of The tailor -made electoral law to disqualify it.

The charge of Kem Sokha leads to the month following the dissolution of the PSNC, then the first opposition formation of the country – leaving the field free to the party of Mr. Hun Sen, the Cambodian People’s Party (PPC), to win The following year the entire seats in Parliament. Mr. Kem is released on deposit a few months later under pressure from the international community and placed by facto under house arrest. His trial, which begins in January 2020, will then be adjourned on the pretext of the Pandemic of COVID-19.

a thin file against Kem Sokha

“From the point of view of Hun Sen, innocent Kem Sokha or condemn it was to choose between plague and cholera. He chose cholera. The legitimacy of his diet will suffer more but this n ‘ is not as “deadly” in the short term [for him] as I infringe Kem Sokha with, as a corollary, the rehabilitation of the PSNC before the elections of July 23, 2023 “, written in an email in the world Sam Raininsy.

The exile politician in France salutes “the courage and dignity” of his former ally, who had declared in 2022, during a court hearing, to have ended their political relations. “It makes no sense for me to” blur “myself with Kem Sokha. Only a united democratic opposition, which Hun Sen is very afraid, can put an end to his autocratic power. He therefore took his desires for realities” , he explains to us.

You have 52.15% of this article to read. The rest is reserved for subscribers.

/Media reports cited above.