Kem Sokha, the former leader of the now debarred Cambodian National Rescue Party has been sentenced to 27 years under house arrest after being found guilty of treason. Sokha has also been barred from politics or voting in elections indefinitely.
According to BBC, Sokha was accused of conspiring with foreign powers to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government. Hun Sen has been in power since 1985, making him one of the longest-serving autocrats in the world.
Sokha was first arrested in September 2017, without a warrant in a midnight raid on his home and taken to a provincial jail, reports Aljazeera. His political party was dissolved and banned from elections in 2018.
Following the verdict, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, W Patrick Murphy said “the United States is deeply troubled by the conviction of respected Cambodian political leader Kem Sokha. The multi-year process to silence Kem Sokha, based on a fabricated conspiracy, is a miscarriage of justice…”
“Denying Kem Sokha and other political figures their freedom of expression and association undermines Cambodia’s constitution, international commitments, and past progress to develop as a pluralist and inclusive society.”
“We call on authorities to allow all Cambodians to enjoy their universal human rights of peaceful assembly and free expression and to participate in building a truly democratic system.”
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