Prominent Cambodian opposition figure Kem Sokha was on Friday sentenced to 27 years of house arrest, and also barred from running for political office or voting in elections after being found guilty of treason by a local court.
W. Patrick Murphy, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, attended the hearing in Phnom Penh and said the case was a miscarriage of justice, calling on authorities to allow all Cambodians to enjoy “universal human rights of peaceful assembly and free expression”.
“Inclusive democracy would further the Cambodian people’s aspirations for a prosperous society that respects all voices and rights,” he wrote on social media.
We are deeply troubled by the conviction of respected leader Kem Sokha. His trial, built on a fabricated conspiracy, was a miscarriage of justice. Inclusive democracy would further the Cambodian people's aspirations for a prosperous society that respects all voices and rights. pic.twitter.com/itrKi9ChLk
— Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy (@USAmbCambodia) March 3, 2023
Kem Sokha’s lawyer, speaking to reporters after the verdict outside the court, said his legal team would lodge an appeal, adding that the former leader of the now-disbanded Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had also been stripped of all of his political and citizens’ rights.
Kem Sokha was arrested in 2017 over accusations he was conspiring with the United States to overthrow self-styled strongman Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for nearly four decades.