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Journalists allowed in Cambodian court for Kem Sokha trial after ban

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Journalists were allowed to observe the third day of the trial of Cambodian opposition party leader Kem Sokha on Wednesday, after previously being banned from the Phnom Penh courtroom. At least seven media outlets and five non-governmental organisations were represented in the Phnom Penh courtroom following pressure from rights groups, civil society, and foreign embassies. Kem Sokha’s trial began on Wednesday last week, more than two years after he was arrested on widely criticised treason charges and accused of attempting to overthrow the government with U.S. support. Sokha, who is the president of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has denied the charges, as has the U.S. However, court spokesman Y Rin said access for media will not necessarily be guaranteed as the court case continues. “There are unoccupied seats today because the presiding judges are yet to summon all the witnesses to testify.

“Should that be the case, there will be no available seats for journalists. “It is not clear yet if journalists are allowed in every hearing.

“It depends on available seats in the courtroom for each hearing,” Y Rin told dpa by phone on Wednesday. The trial was expected to screen a one-hour video submitted by Kem Sokha’s lawyers as evidence in the hearings last week. Sokha faces up to 30 years in prison if he is found guilty.

The CNRP was dissolved by Cambodia’s Supreme Court in November 2017, after making notable gains in that year’s election. It was banned from participating in the 2018 national election, which saw Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party win all 125 contested parliamentary seats.

YEE

Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim

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