Hun Sen: Sam Rainsy Won’t Be Arrested

The government has no plans to arrest opposition leader Sam Rainsy and has no proof implicating him in the Jan 29 anti-Thai rioting, Hun Sen wrote in a letter to King Norodom Sihanouk Tuesday.​​​

“I wish to inform Your Majesty and the Queen that so far there is no evidence that HE Sam Rainsy joined the rioting on Jan 29, 2003, and the government has no intention of arresting him,” Hun Sen wrote.

On Monday, Sam Rainsy went into hiding, claiming the government was preparing to strip his parliamentary immunity and arrest him for alleged involvement in the riots that destroyed the Thai Embassy and several Thai-owned businesses.

CPP officials had confirmed earlier that they are compiling evidence implicating lawmakers from the Sam Rainsy Party. Hun Sen’s letter did not mention whether other opposition figures are under suspicion.

But in his letter to the King, Hun Sen said Sam Rainsy was exaggerating the situation to draw attention to himself.

Sam Rainsy “is very skilled at public relations and propagating false information,” Hun Sen wrote. “The government always considers itself above the interests of individuals or groups.”

Hun Sen’s letter was a response to a missive from King Sihanouk dated Monday. The King’s short letter merely asked the premier to consider a request from opposition members of parliament not to arrest Sam Rainsy.

The King’s letter did not directly request Hun Sen to absolve Sam Rainsy. “I ask you to act in order to avoid any severe crisis among our people and our national society, and to avoid the violent insecurity which is very dangerous to our nation,” the King wrote.

But in a public declaration dated Tuesday, King Sihanouk was more straightforward. “I wish that [Sam Rainsy] no longer be threatened with loss of his parliamentary immunity,” the King stated.

Sam Rainsy, whose location is still unknown, could not be reached for comment on Tues­day. Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said he was thankful for the King’s intervention.

“The political climate is improving,” Son Chhay said. “I am happy to hear that Hun Sen has confirmed that Sam Rainsy was not involved in the anti-Thai riots.”

No assurances have been given that other opposition parliamentarians will not be targeted, but Son Chhay said he was not concerned. “I am not worried that Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers will be arrested, because Sam Rainsy Party members had no involvement in the riots,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Molly Ball)



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