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Cambodian opposition leader denied bail

PHNOM PENH: Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was denied bail, three weeks after a surprise arrest that rattled the fragile democracy.
Kem Sokha, the main rival of strongman premier Hun Sen, was detained in the early hours of Sept 3, taken to a remote border prison and accused of treason and espionage for allegedly conspiring with foreign powers to overthrow the government.
Rights groups have blasted the “concocted” charges as nothing more than Hun Sen’s latest legal manoeuvre to sideline opponents ahead of elections next year that will test his 32-year grip on power.
“The court decided to uphold the provisional detention warrant (of Kem Sokha),” Touch Tharith, a spokesman for the Court of Appeals, said after the hearing yesterday.
Authorities refused to bring the opposition leader to the Phnom Penh court, prompting his legal team to boycott the proceedings which were closed to the public.
“We demanded Kem Sokha be present at the hearing, but the court decided to continue the proceedings so the lawyers boycotted the hearing and walked out,” lawyer Sam Sokong told reporters.
In response, the Court of Appeals issued a statement saying it was unnecessary to bring the suspect to the courtroom as it was not an evidentiary hearing.
The court has not set a date for the trial or explained why it is necessary to detain Kem Sokha, 64, in the jail on the Vietnamese border.
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