CNRP Calls on King to Help Free Imprisoned Lawmaker

The opposition CNRP’s parliamentary delegation has written to King Norodom Sihamoni asking him to intervene to secure lawmaker Um Sam An’s release from prison, arguing that his imprisonment violates his constitutional immunity as a parliamentarian.

Mr. Sam An was arrested on April 10, charged with incitement over 6-month-old Facebook posts and sent to prison to await trial, with the CPP government claiming that his immunity from prosecution was inapplicable due to an exception for red-handed crimes.

The CNRP has pointed out that even such cases require a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly to allow a lawmaker’s continued detention—a vote the CPP neither sought after his arrest nor would be able to secure with only 68 of the 123 lawmakers.

The CNRP letter, which is dated Friday and was obtained on Sunday, notes that the Constitution’s ninth article gives the king “the august role of arbitrator to ensure the faithful execution of public powers” and says he ought to intervene to protect constitutional immunity.

“We would like to ask His Majesty to please intervene to release Um Sam An, according to the obligations of the king who has the highest duty as referee in guaranteeing the faithful execution of public powers, as stated in Article 9 of Cambodia’s Constitution,” it says.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan on Sunday reiterated the government’s response after Mr. Sam An’s arrest, saying that he had been caught red-handed with his allegedly inciteful Facebook post about the Vietnamese border, meaning the two-thirds majority in the National Assembly was not needed to allow his continued prosecution.

“For allowing [the courts] to continue the procedures, it is not stated in how much of a percentage is a quorum, so when there is 50-percent-plus-one, that is OK,” Mr. Eysan said.

“It’s their right to ask the king, but how it will be handled, that is up to the king,” he added.

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