dpa/GNA – A Cambodian court on Monday announced jail terms of more than 20 years for leaders of the country’s banned opposition party, who live in exile abroad.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced the group of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) politicians after they were accused of an attempted attack against Cambodia or its institutions, according to state-aligned media outlet Fresh News.
The charges stem from an aborted attempt by CNRP leader Sam Rainsy and his colleagues in 2019 to return to Cambodia and lead a popular revolt against long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Rainsy, a dual Cambodian/French citizen, fled to France in 2015 to avoid arrest and has since faced a slew of convictions widely seen as politically motivated.
Monday’s ruling sentenced Rainsy to 25 years in prison.
The court also sentenced prominent female opposition leader Mu Sochua, who lives in the United States, to 22 years in jail. Several other exiled CNRP members, including Rainsy’s wife Tioulong Saumura, received 20-year terms.
The judge also stripped the group of their rights to vote in Cambodia and stand in elections.
The CNRP was forcibly dissolved by Cambodia’s politically-compliant judiciary in 2018 after presenting a viable electoral threat to the Cambodian People’s Party, which has ruled the country for more than three decades.
Since then, the government has pursued a wide-ranging crackdown on opposition members, critics of the regime and independent media.