Party Leaders Weigh Appearing Before Judge

Khmer Front Party leaders summoned to Phnom Penh Mun­icipal Court last week said Sun­day they are unsure whether they will comply, saying the summonses could serve to eliminate their party.

Deputy President Sun Sokun­mealea said she fears she and party leader Suth Dina will be arrested if they appear in court to answer questions about the party’s role in a peaceful protest against the July election results.

“This is a political issue. The CPP wants to eliminate the Khmer Front Party because the party is always against the CPP,” Sun Sokunmealea said Sunday.

Sieng Lapresse, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with Suth Dina and threatened the Khmer Front Party with elimination if they did not join the CPP, she added.

Sieng Lapresse denied threatening Suth Dina but said he did have a personal talk with him about joining the CPP. “I told him that I myself defected from the Son Sann Party to join the CPP,” he said, adding, “I did not convince him to join the CPP.”

According to the summonses is­sued by Judge Tan Senarong, Suth Dina is to appear in court Thurs­day and Sun Sokunmealea on June 21. An arrest warrant will be issued if they fail to appear.

Tan Senarong said Sunday he received a complaint from Gov­ernor Kep Chuktema charging the party with “incitement” for a peaceful dem­onstration Aug 31 that was quashed by police, injuring several party members.

The case was a minor one, Tan Senarong said. “Don’t worry, I will not arrest them, I just want to ask them questions,” he said.

Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment.

Kem Sokha, director of the Cam­­­bodia Center for Human Rights, condemned the summonses. “The demonstrators are the ones who should file a complaint against the authorities, because the authorities are currently pres­sur­ing freedom of speech,” he said.


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