Deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha could face arrest if he fails to follow court summonses and present himself for questioning, turning criminal accusations into the “red-handed” crime of ignoring a court order, the government’s corruption czar said on Monday.
In an interview with Voice of Democracy, Anti-Corruption Unit chief Om Yentieng explained that Mr. Sokha’s immunity from prosecution as a lawmaker would not protect him against arrest if he follows through on his pledge to ignore the court summonses over a sex scandal.
“We saw the court summoned him twice. With the ACU, by law you can ignore a summons only one time and the second time we will bring you in,” Mr. Yentieng said.
He went on to explain that parliamentary immunity would protect Mr. Sokha against arrest over potential charges of procuring prostitution for an alleged affair with a 25-year-old hairdresser, but that the same protection would not be extended if the opposition leader were to commit the flagrant crime of ignoring the court.
“He could create a bigger case than the first one. They will not arrest him for prostitution, but they could arrest him for a new case as a red-handed crime,” Mr. Yentieng said.
In its recent campaign against the opposition, the government has seized on a clause in the Constitution that allows for the arrest of a lawmaker if the alleged crime is “in flagrante delicto,” or caught in the act, though legal experts and the opposition have disputed the interpretation.