Gov’t Files New Charges Against Sam Rainsy

Gov’t Lawyer Says Opposition Leader Could Face 18 Years in Prison

The government lodged another lawsuit against opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Friday, accusing him of spreading disinformation and disseminating false documents for his attempts to prove Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodia’s eastern border.

After filing the criminal complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday morning, government lawyer Ky Tech told reporters that Mr Rainsy could face a combined sentence of up to 18 years in prison if he is found guilty.

This new law suit comes just a month after the beleaguered opposition leader, who is in self-imposed exile in France, was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison for his role in uprooting border posts that he claimed were illegally planted in a Svay Rieng farmer’s rice paddy.

“This complaint is not like the Svay Rieng province case,” Mr Tech assured. “The Phnom Penh Municipal Court complaint is a new story that Sam Rainsy used his skill for faking documents and disseminated them all over the world, which can cause confusion between the border task forces of Cambodia and Vietnam,” he claimed.

Mr Rainsy has been crusading for months now over the supposed border encroachment in Svay Rieng, insisting that the government has turned a blind eye to the loss of border land because of its alliance with Vietnam.

The government has strongly denied the opposition leader’s claims.

Since his January conviction, Mr Rainsy has also posted a number of border maps and other documents to his party’s website in an effort to convince the public of the veracity of his claim that the new border demarcation posts are inside Cambodian territory.

“First of all, Sam Rainsy accused the government of putting the [border] markers on Cambodian farmers’ land, and then he went to post a map that he falsified,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said on Friday, explaining the government’s new lawsuit. “In order to prove his accusation, he falsified maps that showed markers inside Cambodian land,” he said.

Mr Siphan said the government had decided to file a complaint because of Mr Rainsy’s outspokenness about the sensitive border issue, which he said amounted to an attempt by the opposition leader to incite the public.

“He is provoking, misleading the public, inciting people against the government and the national policy, stipulated by the Cambodian Constitution, to treat neighboring countries with respectful coexistence,” Mr Siphan said.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech that he did not expect Sam Rainsy to be able to return to Cambodia for the 2013 national elections.

Mr Siphan confirmed that this was likely the case.

“In order [to] run for elections, you’re supposed to be free of accusation,” Mr Siphan said. “You’re not supposed to be in jail.”

Mr Rainsy said in an email on Friday evening that he would take this latest court action as an opportunity to continue raising international awareness of border encroachment in Cambodia.

“It’s a unique opportunity for me to expose the truth with international observers/experts standing as witnesses,” Mr Rainsy wrote of his troubles.

“Public opinion, not the Hun Sen-controlled court, will judge,” he added.



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