Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) chairman Om Yentieng said on Monday that the anti-graft body had opened sealed asset declarations submitted by deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha and would look to sue anyone who defames the unit during its investigation into Mr. Sokha.
A campaign led by morally outraged university student Srey Chamroeun came to a head last week when Mr. Yentieng accepted his request to examine two apartments and some land Mr. Sokha purportedly bought for a mistress—claims based on audio recordings allegedly of the lawmaker.
“So far we have not yet sent a letter to Kem Sokha to give an explanation,” Mr. Yentieng said by telephone, reiterating that the ACU was strictly investigating whether Mr. Sokha had made property purchases with ill-gotten money.
Mr. Sokha has refused to respond to the claims that he took a mistress. Mr. Yentieng reiterated on Monday that the ACU had no interest in finding out whether Mr. Sokha had extra-marital liaisons.
“We’ll take clear measures to make sure the public understands our measures, because we have noticed that there are some people spoiling the atmosphere and making the public confused about our unit’s measures,” he said.
Mr. Yentieng said that the ACU had already opened Mr. Sokha’s three sealed asset declarations—made in 2011, 2013 and 2015—and would wait until after a meeting of the ACU’s governing body on Thursday to contact Mr. Sokha.
“At the moment, we have already opened the three envelopes of Mr. Sokha’s property declarations,” he said. “And we will send Kem Sokha a letter sometime after the National Council Against Corruption meeting to make this point die down and stop those telling lies to the public.”
“There could be legal action against those who defame, incite or damage the unit’s reputation,” Mr. Yentieng added. Asked who could be targeted, he said: “Those who publicly disseminate [information] that damages the unit.”
Neither CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith nor senior lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang could be reached. However, Mr. Chhay Eang sent a letter to National Assembly President Heng Samrin on Monday informing him that a petition Mr. Chamroeun submitted last week should be disregarded.
Arguing that “at this point, it’s a murder case,” the student submitted a petition on Friday to Mr. Chhay Eang—in his capacity as head of the Assembly’s human rights commission—and Mr. Samrin asking them to question Mr. Sokha for allegedly asking a lover to get an abortion.
“In relation to this petition request,” Mr. Chhay Eang wrote to Mr. Samrin, “I would like to inform Samdech president of the National Assembly that there are no articles nor provisions written in the Constitution and the internal rules of the National Assembly authorizing the National Assembly to summon lawmakers for questioning.”
Mr. Chamroeun said by telephone on Monday that he would lead his group this afternoon to submit further petitions to the National Assembly, CNRP headquarters and the U.N.’s human rights office in Phnom Penh to request that Mr. Sokha speak about the recordings, making a final stop at the deputy opposition leader’s house.
Asked why he believed the U.N. needed to get involved, Mr. Chamroeun said the scandal was a human rights issue.
“Because the leaked audio recordings basically critically impact upon the law, traditions and are a bad example for the youth,” he said. “It is a violation of human rights, so we need Kem Sokha to respect democracy and human rights.”