Hun Sen Bites Back After Criminal Complaints Filed in US

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday lashed out at an unnamed opposition leader, saying an attempt to embarrass him by filing criminal complaints in New York was akin to a pesky dog biting his leg.

“The dog bit my leg, but I won’t bite the dog’s leg back. I will use my leg to kick the dog,” Mr Hun Sen said, in apparent reference to opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

Mr Rainsy filed criminal complaints last week with federal prosecutors in New York, accusing Mr Hun Sen of meddling in the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s examination of a 1997 grenade attack at an opposition party rally in Phnom Penh that killed at least 16 people and wounded more than 100, including an American.

“What court has the right to try me?” Mr Hun Sen asked rhetorically of a crowd of university graduates in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The premier went on to challenge Mr Rainsy to file a complaint in Belgium when Mr Hun Sen visits Brussels in early October for the Asia-Europe Meeting.

“I will go to Europe, so you go, file the complaint in Brussels,” Mr Hun Sen said yesterday. “That is a NATO area, so make NATO arrest me.”

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday brushed aside the prime minister’s comments.

“I don’t think [the comments] affect my party in general because we get used to it,” he said, adding that the party didn’t have time to concentrate on the prime minister’s words.

He added, “Mr Hun Sen can order the court in Cambodia, but he cannot order the court in Europe or the United States.”

Mr Rainsy made a public appeal last week, asking the international community to pressure Cambodia to allow his return. Mr Hun Sen yesterday questioned the wisdom of following that request with the criminal complaints.

“The key to enter Cambodia is Hun Sen,” the premier said.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said that although the use of “provocative words” by politicians is commonplace in Cambodia, the nation’s political discourse would better benefit from a more measured tone.

Mr Rainsy was sentenced in January to two years in prison for leading a group of villagers to uproot border markers in Svay Rieng province. Last week, he was sentenced to an additional 10 years for map forgery and disinformation.

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