Cambodian opposition leader to stand trial

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha will stand trial for treason, media reports say

A Cambodian opposition leader who was arrested more than two years ago on widely criticised treason charges will face trial, local media reports say.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided to send Kem Sokha's case to trial, but a hearing date was not yet set, court spokesman Y Rin told the Khmer Times.

The move comes a week before an EU deadline for Cambodia to respond to a review of its duty-free access to the European market.

The European Commission has said Sokha's arrest and detention and the subsequent dissolution of his opposition party, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), appeared to violate rights compliance requirements under the EU trade deal.

Cambodia's access is under threat of suspension over what the EU has called "serious and systematic" human rights violations.

The EU warned Cambodia last month that it must make "real and credible" progress in human rights to retain its status. The body will make a final decision in February.

National elections in 2018 were criticised by the EU over the lack of a credible opposition challenger to the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, since the CNRP was banned from participating in the poll.

Kem Monovithya, Sokha's daughter and a CNRP spokeswoman, said on Twitter that pressures on the Cambodian government should only be removed when it holds "free, fair elections."

Sokha was arrested in September 2017 on treason charges, which he has denied.

The court last month eased restrictions on Sokha, who had been under de facto house arrest. He is still not allowed to leave the country or engage in political activities.