PHNOM PENH – The leader of the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, Kem Sokha, who is facing charges of treason, was denied bail by a Cambodian court on Thursday.
Sokha was arrested in September 2017, and could face between 15-30 years in prison if found guilty.
“Court decided to continue to detain #KemSokha #Injustice,” his daughter Samathida Kem wrote on Twitter.
Several of Sokha’s relatives and followers gathered outside the Phnom Penh appeals court for a chance to see him. He has not left prison since being arrested last year.
A heavy security presence prevented foreign media and Union Nation officials from entering the court house.
Sokha is accused of hatching a conspiracy against Prime Minister Hun Sen, with the backing of the United States, which Sokha denies.
The accusation is based on a video shared on social media which purportedly shows the accused boasting of receiving US advice on prevailing at the polls.
Sinc last year, Hun Sen has targeted the opposition after his Cambodian People’s Party fared poorly in local elections held in June.
In addition to the ban on the opposition, the prime minister has cracked down on the independent press, leading to the closure of the Cambodia Daily newspaper and several radio stations, as well as the expulsion of a US pro-democracy non-profit organization.
In 2013, Prime Minister Hun Sen – who has ruled Cambodia since 1985 – won a narrow re-election victory that was marred by accusations of fraud.
Sen has repeatedly warned that the country could descend into civil war if his party were to lose the next general elections, scheduled to be held on July 29, 2018.
Cambodia, backed by the United Nations, held its first democratic elections in 1993 after more than two decades of conflict, including the reign of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979), during which about 1.7 million people died.