Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Kem Sokha to Appeal This Week Against Treason Conviction

Kem Sokha's lawyer Meng Sopheary arrives at Sokha’s home in Phnom Penh for a meeting on March 28, 2023. (CamboJA/Pring Samrang)
Kem Sokha's lawyer Meng Sopheary arrives at Sokha’s home in Phnom Penh for a meeting on March 28, 2023. (CamboJA/Pring Samrang)

Ex-opposition leader Kem Sokha plans to submit an appeal this week against his treason conviction and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court 27 year home confinement sentence, according to his lawyers. 

The court gave a 30 day deadline to submit an appeal following the March 3 verdict. The case would then go to the Appeals Court in Phnom Penh and potentially later to the Supreme Court.

Sokha’s co-lawyers, Ang Oudom and Meng Sopheary, met with Sokha Tuesday morning after receiving permission from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor. 

“Nothing else had been raised during the meeting and only about the appeal,” Oudom said. “Because he is unhappy [with the conviction] and it is an injustice for him.”

After Sokha’s lawyers said they were blocked from meeting with their client on March 16, Sokha wrote a letter to the prosecutor on March 22 requesting permission to meet his lawyers to discuss the appeal.

“I need to meet with my lawyers to continue the judicial proceedings, I need to consult them to appeal on time,” Sokha wrote. The statement was posted on Sokha’s Facebook by his personal assistant. 

The municipal court’s verdict bars Sokha from leaving his home or communicating in-person or online with all people besides family members without permission from prosecutors. Sokha is also barred from politics for life. 

The European Parliament called on Cambodian authorities on March 16 to release former opposition leader Kem Sokha and reinstate the court-dissolved CNRP for participation in the 2023 elections or face target sanctions and further withdrawal of trade preferences.

Political analyst Em Sovanara said that an appeal appeared to be Sokha’s only option for justice.

“He has to go to an appeal’s court because he has no choice, filing an appeal is the best way to get the charges dropped or commuted,” Sovannara said. 

(Additional reporting by Runn Sreydeth)

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