A Cambodian court opened a trial against the prominent Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha, accusing him of “conspiring with foreign powers” to overthrow the government.
Based on a video of a speech he gave in 2013, Sokha has been accused of received long-term support from the United States.
Sokha has denied committing treason: “All of my activities were focused on human rights and democracy, carried out in peaceful and non-violent manners in accordance with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia”, he stated.
Critics from across the world called the trial a “circus”. The move is seen a violation of democracy. The country has been ruled for 35 years by strongman Hun Sen.
The European Union is considering withdrawing its preferential Everything But Arms trade deal because of Hun Sen’s authoritarian rule and his crackdown on human rights in the country. The deal grants duty and quota free access to the EU for all exports except weapons and ammunition.
“My political activities were focused on the participation in free, fair, and just elections that truly reflect the will of the Cambodian people… I continue to demand that the court permanently drop the charge against me so that I can fully exercise my political freedom in participation in serving and defending the interests of the country and the people”, Sokha said.
Journalists complained that only a “few” were allowed into the court. The trial could last up to three months.