Opposition activist Kem Sokha failed to appear for questioning Thursday in municipal court, and now the summons will be reissued, a court official said.
“And if he still ignores [the summons] to come, the court will use the [next] legal step to bring him in,” said Mong Mony Chariya, the municipal court judge in charge of the investigation.
It was unclear Thursday whether Kem Sokha, who human rights workers say is in a “safe place,” was ever served with the summons.
The government has said it wants Kem Sokha, the Assembly’s former human rights commission chairman, to answer questions in court about his role in “illegal” protests following the election. The court is considering whether Kem Sokha incited ethnic hatred leading to violence and damage to the Cambodia-Vietnam Liberation Monument.
Kem Sokha, a Son Sann Party official, could not be reached for comment Thursday. But Mom Sophat, the party’s cabinet chief, called the summons an intimidation tactic by the government.
“The summons seems to be a threat to scare the new parliamentarians so they will not have the courage to oppose the government,” Mom Sophat said.
Other opposition officials and human rights workers have expressed similar sentiments about the threat against Kem Sokha and other opposition figures.
The Son Sann Party issued a statement Thursday noting that any charges against Kem Sokha would be “illegal” ones since he still had parliamentary immunity during the protests.
The statement called on the police and court to drop the case and work instead toward national reconciliation. It also urged the international community and rights groups to intervene in the case.
Despite having parliamentary immunity, the government in September twice prevented Kem Sokha from leaving Cambodia.
The Son Sann Party statement also noted that local authorities surrounded Kem Sokha’s residence in Phnom Penh on Sept 25, a day after his immunity ended and a day after King Norodom Sihanouk swore in new parliamentarians in Siem Reap.
Mom Sophat said he hasn’t had any recent contact with Kem Sokha and doesn’t know whether the summons was received. Mong Mony Chariya also said he didn’t know if Kem Sokha had received the summons.