Opposition Members Miss Second Court Date

Two Sam Rainsy Party members have failed to answer their second summons by the Military Court to answer questions about the opposition party’s Committee No 14, which Prime Minister Hun Sen has accused of militancy.

Military Court President Ney Thol said that a separate three opposition party defectors were recently in court for questioning. He said they blamed opposition parliamentarian and Committee No 14 chief Cheam Channy for tricking them into joining an illegal armed force and accused him of charging them membership dues.

Sam Rainsy Party officials and human rights organizations have maintained that Committee No 14, which was publicly established in 2001, is nothing more than a “shadow ministry” of de­fense, modeled after opposition party organs in Britain and Australia.

Cheam Channy said Tuesday that Thach Phy and Khuon Na­reth dodged court because the court refused to admit their attorney, Hong Sim Suon, to the interview. The court has said they must file a formal request to have Hong Sim Suon represent them.

According to Hong Sim Suon and Cheam Channy, the two men already filed the request.

But Ney Thol said he did not trust their request. “I don’t believe that. It may be a fake,” he said. “Whenever those people are afraid and don’t show up, it means that they know themselves that they are guilty,” he added. He said the Military Court now has a list of 198 Committee No 14 defectors, some of whom are soldiers and police. Thach Phy and Khuon Nareth’s phones were turned off Tuesday.

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