Cambodia arrests opposition leader, declaring treason

Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017|9:42 p.m.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia– Authorities arrested the leader of Cambodia’s main opposition party in a surprise raid on his house in the capital early Sunday, and the federal government provided a declaration implicating him of treason.

The arrest of Kem Sokha dealt a significant blow to the opposition ahead of elections due next year and made sure to raise political tensions in the unstable Southeast Asian country.

The relocation comes amid a push by the federal government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest serving rulers, to shutter critical news outlets in exactly what experts state is a bid to reinforce its position prior to the 2018 vote.

Kem Sokha was taken away in handcuffs after a force of between 100 to 200 officers got to his Phnom Penh house around midnight, according his daughter, Monovithya Kem, who is also a member of his Cambodia National Rescue Celebration.

Monovithya Kem said on Twitter that police revealed no warrant for her father’s arrest. She stated later on that his whereabouts were unidentified, but Interior Ministry spokesperson Gen. Khieu Sopheak stated that Kem Sokha was apprehended at the Tropeang Phlong jail center in Tbuong Khmum province, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Phnom Penh.

He said the next step will be his court look to officially deal with the charges, which bring a jail sentence of 15 to 30 years.

“In the video that the government obtained, he has admitted himself that he was trained and gotten funding from an effective foreign nation to fall the federal government,” Khieu Sopheak stated. “This is a clear criminal activity and there’s no have to make further investigation since he has admitted already,” he added.

In an official statement issued after the arrest, the federal government said it had acquired a video and other evidence suggesting “secret strategies of a conspiracy in between Kem Sokha … and immigrants to damage the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

The statement provided no details however called the actions “treason.”

Kem Sokha’s party stated the arrest broke the constitution due to the fact that he has parliamentary resistance and contacted the government to launch him.

The administration of Hun Sen, an authoritarian leader who has actually held a tight grip on power for more than 3 decades, has put increasing legal pressure on its critics, the media and political challengers ahead of nationwide elections due in July.

Legal dangers required Kem Sokha’s predecessor, Sam Rainsy, to resign this year from the Cambodia National Rescue Party that he had actually led.

John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Person Rights Watch, stated the arrest was “a very troubling development and a setback for democracy in Cambodia.”

“The government’s charges lack trustworthiness, given its long record of misusing its legal system to silence or frighten critics and political challengers,” Sifton stated.

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