Cambodian prime minister refutes claim that opposition leader Kem Sokha has been pardoned before trial
- Kem Sokha, former president of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, was arrested last year on charges of treason and is currently under house arrest
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday that former opposition party leader Kem Sokha would not be pardoned unless he was first tried, refuting a claim made by another key opposition figure that international pressure would soon bring about his release.
Kem Sokha, 65, president of the now-dissolved main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, was arrested last year on charges of treason and is currently under house arrest.
Sam Rainsy, a former CNRP leader who is in self-imposed exile abroad, claimed on his Facebook page this week that Kem Sokha would be released on December 29 due to international pressure.
“The release – attributable only to international pressure – will take place on 29 December 2018, which marks the 20th anniversary of Hun Sen’s ‘Win-Win Policy’ in his dealing with the Khmer Rouge,” he said in the post.
Hun Sen, at a meeting with garment workers on Wednesday, said, “Kem Sokha has yet been tried or has yet been found guilty. Thus we cannot request to His Majesty the King for his pardon.”
No date has been fixed for Kem Sokha’s trial.
Rainsy, in the same Facebook post, called on the prime minister to drop “trumped-up” charges against Sokha and “very similar charges against me” and immediately release him from house arrest to start the process for restoring democracy in Cambodia.
The CNRP was dissolved by court order last year ahead of the July 29 general election, in which the Hun Sen-led Cambodian People’s Party, in the absence of any credible challengers, won all 125 seats in the National Assembly.