Mu Sochua Silent During Court Questioning

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said she refused to answer all questions put to her during questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday, telling the judge only that he had no right to summon her due to her parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

Last year, Ms. Sochua led a campaign to gain access to Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park during the postelection standoff with the ruling CPP. After a protest turned violent on July 15, she was arrested along with six other CNRP lawmakers, who were all later charged with “leading an insurrection.”

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua arrives for questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua arrives for questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Following a deal between Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy the next week, the CNRP lawmakers took their seats in the National Assembly and gained immunity. However, a number have since been summoned back to court for questioning over the July 15 incident.

Ms. Sochua—the most prominent of the arrested lawmakers—said outside the court Monday that she remained silent throughout her questioning after asking the judge why he was ignoring her parliamentary immunity.

“I asked the court—the investigating judge, Keo Mony—that before summoning me, the court has to implement Article 80,” Ms. Sochua said, referring to the article of the Constitution that affords lawmakers immunity and provides conditions on which it can be revoked.

“The court [judge] told me that he had the right not to answer my question,” Ms. Sochua said. “There were 10 questions, or about 11 or 12 questions, concerning July 15, 2014, at Freedom Park.”

“Due to the court failing to implement Article 80 on the procedure for summoning a lawmaker, I therefore had the right not to answer the questions asked by the court,” she said.

Asked what she thought would happen next with the case against her and the other lawmakers, Ms. Sochua said only that she requested to have it dropped.

“I do not know, but I had two requests to the court today…. [First,] the court must implement constitutional laws,” she said. “The second request was that the court drops all charges against me—a lawmaker.”

Judge Mony could not be reached Monday.

According to Article 80 of the Constitution, a lawmaker can only have their immunity stripped by a two-thirds majority vote of the National Assembly. The current Assembly comprises 68 CPP and 55 CNRP lawmakers, affording neither party such a majority.

dara@cambodiadaily.com

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