Opposition Lawmaker Could Lose Immunity

National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranarridh alerted Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers on Friday that another of their ranks could lose parliamentary im­munity at the behest of a court.

In a statement to the opposition lawmakers, Prince Ranariddh said the National Assembly Per­ma­nent Committee decided last week that the legislature should consider a Military Court request to make parliamentarian Cheam Channy answerable to charges of raising an illegal armed force.

Military Court President Ney Thol and Investigating Judge Pok Pon confirmed the request on Monday.

While Prime Minister Hun Sen’s heated threats against the Sam Rainsy Party’s so-called militant wing have died down in recent months, Pok Pon said he had continued to quietly follow up on the charges.

Pok Pon and Ney Thol both declined to provide details spur­ring their request to revoke Cheam Channy’s immunity.

Radio Free Asia reported in August that Deputy Prime Min­ister Sar Kheng had downplayed the prime minister’s accusations that the opposition party was recruiting soldiers, saying their was no evidence to back up the charges.

Government official have confirmed that the group Hun Sen had labeled rebels and spies was actually the opposition party’s Committee No 14—an openly operated watchdog network de­signed to report on the improprieties in the military. Cheam Channy serves as its head.

Local and international human rights groups, along with US senators, have criticized Hun Sen’s charges as political in­tim­idation.

But according to Prince Ra­narridh, the Assembly will review Cheam Channy’s status along with that of a fellow opposition parliamentarian, Chea Poch, whom Prince Ranariddh has sued for defamation in Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Chea Poch accused the prince of accepting bribes from Hun Sen before bringing Funcinpec into a coalition government.                                    According to Prince Ranarridh, “The National Assembly Perma­n­ent Committee has decided to put [the courts’ requests] before the National Assembly for ap­proval at the earliest appropriate time.”

 

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