Cambodian Lawyer and Opposition Party Members Jailed for Treason | Political news

A group including prominent lawyer Theary Seng has gone on trial over opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s failed 2019 attempt to return home.

Theary Seng, a prominent Cambodian American lawyer, and dozens of members of Cambodia’s banned opposition party were convicted of treason in a controversial mass trial over the party leader’s failed attempt to return home in 2019 .

The Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) was forcibly dissolved after a strong performance in the 2017 local elections and its co-leader, Kem Sohka, was charged with treason. Party members and supporters have since been the target of a number of mass trials that have turned Cambodia into a virtual one-party state.

The latest case was linked to a plan by Sam Rainsy, another party leader, to return from exile in 2019.

Rainsy’s attempt was blocked by the government, while Theary Seng and most of the other defendants were charged with arranging the trip – charges they denied.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Theary Seng and most of the others guilty of conspiracy to commit treason, defense attorney Choung Chou Ngy said.

Theary Seng, who arrived in court dressed as “Lady Liberty”, was sentenced to six years in prison, and the others received sentences ranging from five to eight years.

Standing in court as the verdict was announced, Theary Seng said she wanted her arrest to be public and “not in the shadows”. Reporters saw at least three police officers approach the lawyer, hold her hand and body, and push her into a waiting police truck shortly after the verdict was delivered.

The dissolution of the CNRP gave Prime Minister Hun Sen all seats in the National Assembly in the 2018 general election. He has now been in power for 37 years.

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