Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested in the capital Phnom Penh early on Sunday and accused of treason in a move critics said showed that Prime Minister Hun Sen was intensifying his attacks on opponents before 2018 elections.
“The Government wishes to inform the public that on September 3, at 12:35 am, Kem Sokha was arrested by the judicial police based on the in flagrante delicto crime under the Cambodian Code of Criminal Procedures,” said a government statement issued on Sunday.
“The forgoing secret conspiracy is treason as stipulated in and punishable under article 443 of the Penal Code of Cambodia (Conspiracy with foreign power) under Chapter 2 of Breach of State Security and an act against the nation,” said the statement, which also included a government appeal for calm.
Muth Chantha, Kem Sokha’s advisor, confirms that Kem Sokha and eight bodyguards of his were arrested at Kem Sokha’s home in Phnom Penh.
“It is a big deal and grave concern when the main and only opposition party president is arrested. This will certainly affect democracy and especially the upcoming national election,” Muth Chantha told RFA’s Khmer Service.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Spheak told RFA that Kem Sokha was taken to Tra Peang Plong prison in Tbong Khmum province, near Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.
The CNRP condemned the arrest, demanded Kem Sokha’s unconditional release and appealed for international intervention in the case.
“The CNRP regards such a swift arrest, which was made in middle of the night while Kem Sokha is protected by his parliamentary immunity, as politically motivated and a violation of Cambodian laws and the constitution,” the party said in a statement.
Full story: rfa.org
Reported by Sonorng Kher for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Paul Eckert
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