Cambodia begins mass trial of 120 opposition figures

WION Web Team
Phnom Penh, Cambodia Published: Nov 26, 2020, 03.18 PM(IST)

Mass trials in Cambodia Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The case in question is linked to attempts by exiled opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy to return to Cambodia last year from France, where he has lived since 2015 to avoid jail for convictions that he says are bogus.

Authorities in Cambodia kicked off a mass trial of more than 120 opposition figures kicked off in Phnom Penh Thursday.

The case in question is linked to attempts by exiled opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy to return to Cambodia last year from France, where he has lived since 2015 to avoid jail for convictions that he says are bogus.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is one of the world's longest serving leaders, maintaining a 35-year grip on power with methods that include jailing political opponents and activists.

Many of the accused in Thursday's trial have connections to Rainsy's Cambodia National Rescue Party -- which a court dissolved in November 2017 -- while others are human rights activists.

Many defendants have fled the country fearing arrest.

Ney Leak, an opposition political activist who faces charges over posting messages supportive of Rainsy's return, said she was "innocent".

American-Cambodian human rights activist Theary Seng is accused of conspiracy to commit treason and incitement to commit a felony.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith said since June 2019 more than 150 people associated with the dissolved opposition party have faced arrest.

After two hours the judge split the case in two, following lawyers' requests for more time to prepare.

Some defendants sought permission to choose their own legal representation rather than use ones appointed by the court.

Hearings are expected to resume in January and March.
 

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