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Cambodia court docket convenes for mass trial of opposition figures

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PHNOM PENH: A court docket in Cambodia convened on Thursday (Jan 14) for the treason trial of scores of opposition figures, considered one of a sequence of circumstances seen by activists as strikes by the ruling social gathering to sideline threats to its political monopoly.

The defendants are amongst 121 folks affiliated with the dissolved Cambodia Nationwide Rescue Occasion (CNRP) who’re charged with treason and incitement.

Sixty-one opposition figures have been summoned to seem in court docket, Mu Sochua, CNRP’s deputy president who’s in the US, instructed Reuters in a textual content message.

It was not instantly clear what number of would present up, given many are in exile fearing they’d not get a good listening to.

The CNRP was banned and its chief Kem Sokha arrested earlier than an election in 2018, permitting Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian Individuals’s Occasion to win each parliamentary seat, prompting worldwide concern.

Theary Seng, an American-Cambodian lawyer who was amongst these due in court docket, stated she had a proper to precise opinions, together with the fitting to precise dissent.

“The actual function of the costs towards me is to silence me,” she stated in a press release.

Amnesty Worldwide’s Asia-Pacific regional director Yamini Mishra stated in a press release: “These mass trials are an affront to worldwide truthful trial requirements, Cambodia’s human rights commitments and the rule of legislation.”

Sok Phat, a former deputy from the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, arrives at the court f
Sok Phat, a former deputy from the dissolved Cambodia Nationwide Rescue Occasion, reacts after arriving at court docket for the treason trial of greater than 100 opposition figures in Phnom Penh on Nov 26, 2020. (Picture: Reuters/Heng Mengheang)

Mu Sochua stated in an e-mail she would lead exiled social gathering members and activists to Cambodia on Sunday to defend themselves in court docket, which she stated was duty-bound to allow their return.

Mu Sochua stated the mass trials have been politically motivated and that authorities have been spreading worry to discourage opposition supporters from rallying behind their leaders.

The fees towards social gathering chief Kem Sokha stem from accusations he conspired with the US to overthrow Hun Sen – accusations he and Washington reject.

The federal government stated defendants can be allowed to return to Cambodia however should abide by the court docket’s choice. “We do not trigger any hassle for them … they’ll come freely,” stated authorities spokesman Phay Siphan.

Justice ministry spokesman Chin Malin stated the court docket had “fulfilled its responsibility” however declined to say whether or not the defendants can be allowed entry.

The overseas ministry didn’t reply to a request for remark.

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