Exiled opposition official asks Hun Manet to help clear 2022 charges

Former lawmaker Kong Saphea wants to return from Canada to visit his elderly parents.
By RFA Khmer
2024.04.18
Exiled opposition official asks Hun Manet to help clear 2022 charges Prime Minister Hun Manet’s response to Kong Saphea’s plea on Facebook.
(@facebook/Hun Manet)

A former opposition party lawmaker now living in Canada has asked Prime Minister Hun Manet to intervene in his case and ask prosecutors to drop criminal charges so that he can return to Cambodia to visit his ailing parents. 

Hun Manet responded to Kong Saphea’s plea on Thursday, saying on Facebook that he would work on a solution.

The prime minister also posted an image of a letter sent by Kong Saphea in February in which the former lawmaker expressed regret for his past actions against the government.

“For Kong Saphea. I’ve received your apology letter,” Hun Manet wrote. “I welcome you. I will manage according to our procedures so that you can return to Cambodia. I do hope that I will have an opportunity to meet and talk in the future.”

Kong Saphea was among a group of 60 officials and activists from the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, who were sentenced to prison in 2022 after they were found guilty of plotting to overthrow the government. 

The charges were widely condemned as politically motivated, and Cambodia’s judiciary continues to be criticized for its lack of independence. 

In 2017, the CNRP was dissolved by Cambodia’s Supreme Court in a decision that paved the way for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, or CPP, to win all 125 seats in the 2018 election.

Kong Saphea moved to Canada before the 2022 conviction. His letter in February was addressed to Hun Manet and former Prime Minister Hun Sen and requested a pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni for the 2022 conviction.

“I’m not defecting to the CPP, but I wrote the statement requesting a pardon because I want to get a chance to take care of my elderly parents in Cambodia,” he wrote in an email to Radio Free Asia on Thursday.

Hun Manet took over as prime minister in August, after his father – Hun Sen – stepped down after decades in power.

Translated by Yun Samean. Edited by Matt Reed.

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