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Politics

Cambodia to start opposition leader trial in January

Leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Kem Sokha attends a meeting with German Ambassador to Cambodia Christian Berger at his home in Phnom Penh on Nov. 12.   © Reuters

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) -- The trial of Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha on treason charges will begin on Jan. 15, a court said on Monday.

Kem Sokha was arrested in 2017 and his opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) banned ahead of an election last year that was condemned by Western countries, who have demanded his release by veteran authoritarian leader Hun Sen.

Last week the court in Phnom Penh said investigators found enough evidence to proceed with the case.

"The Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hold trial for the accused Kem Sokha on treason charges... on January 15, 2020," the court's spokesman Y Rin told Reuters.

Defence lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kem Sokha was freed from house arrest last month but a ban on his engaging in political activity was kept in place.

His release has been demanded by the European Union, which is considering whether to remove lucrative trade privileges from Cambodia over its crackdown on the opposition, activists and the media.

The only evidence presented against him in public so far is a comment he made at a public meeting in which he said he was getting advice from unspecified Americans on election strategy ahead of a 2013 ballot.

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