Kim Sok Case Poised to Move To Trial Phase

The case of political firebrand Kim Sok, who was jailed in February for accusing a government-affiliated “network” of orchestrating the murder of political analyst Kem Ley, is ready to proceed to trial, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court said on Wednesday.

Investigating Judge Ros Piseth said that preliminary investigations into Mr. Sok’s case were completed last week, and that both the defendant and the plaintiff, Prime Minister Hun Sen, had been informed of the decision.

Jailed political commentator Kim Sok speaks to reporters as he is escorted through the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh. (Emil Kastrup/The Cambodia Daily)

“We closed the investigation a week ago, so we are now waiting for both parties to see if they want to submit more evidence or submit a complaint on procedure,” Judge Piseth said.

In a February 12 interview with Radio Free Asia, Mr. Sok appeared to suggest the ruling party was to blame for last year’s murder of Kem Ley.

A few days later, Mr. Sok repeated the claim, saying that he believed a government-affiliated network was responsible for the slaying.

He was charged with defamation and incitement to cause disorder and imprisoned. Mr. Hun Sen is suing him for more than $500,000.

A bail request was rejected by the Appeal Court last month. In a previous appeal hearing, Mr. Sok said that representatives of the premier had visited him in prison and offered possible release if he wrote an apology, threatening to send him to a “dark prison” if he didn’t, a claim that the Interior Ministry has denied.

Choung Chungy, Mr. Sok’s lawyer, on Wednesday said he was happy to proceed to trial.

“There is no complaint. If the hearing is as fair as possible, then that’s good for my client,” he said.

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