The Constitutional Council on Monday rejected a complaint from opposition party members to rule on a controversial court summons issued for outspoken former lawmaker Kem Sokha.
“The Constitutional Council regrets it cannot intervene and seek a solution of the charges,” Council President Chan Sok wrote in response to the request.
Chan Sok said members carefully deliberated the request, but decided they were not legally authorized to intervene. He cited articles 15 through 19 of the council’s law, which outline the Council’s responsibilities.
Sixteen Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy parliamentarians complained to the Council last week of a municipal court summons issued against Kem Sokha, a former BLDP lawmaker and ex-chairman of the National Assembly’s human rights commission.
Kem Sokha is under investigation for allegedly inciting racial hatred and damage to state property during last month’s anti-government demonstrations. He is in hiding and has twice failed to appear in court on the charges.
Funcinpec Assembly member Mu Sochua, who signed the original complaint, said Monday she doubts the neutrality of the nation’s highest court. “The role of the Constitutional Council is to respond when the rights and laws stipulated in the Constitution are violated,” she said. “Kem Sokha is protected by immunity as stated in the Constitution.”
The opposition members called the municipal court’s actions political retaliation. “If the court can do this,” they wrote in their letter, “this means the parliamentarians in power do not dare to speak or criticize or express their view affecting the leaders.”
Municipal court officials could not be reached for comment Monday. on whether they plan to issue an arrest warrant for Kem Sokha.