Eleven Cambodian opposition members and activists have been sentenced to prison on insurrection charges, including three who received 20-year sentences, a defence lawyer has said. The sentences, meted out on Tuesday for taking part in clashes in July 2014, over the closure of a key protest site in the capital Phnom Pehn, come as Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped up efforts to quash dissent in a kingdom he has led for more than three decades.
Those jailed are from the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and were arrested during the clashes with authorities last year that left dozens wounded on both sides. “This is a very serious sentencing. We lawyers cannot accept these convictions,” Sam Sokong, one of the group’s defence counsel told AFP, adding his eight other clients received seven years in jail. Local rights group LICADHO described the proceedings as a “show trial with a predetermined ending, apparently set up only to intimidate” the opposition.
It said that the surprise sentencing was made without the presence of most of the defence lawyers.