Police Enter CNRP HQ in Attempt to Arrest Kem Sokha

Armed police made a surprise visit to the Phnom Penh headquarters of the opposition CNRP on Thursday, claiming to have an arrest warrant for deputy party leader Kem Sokha.

Minutes earlier, one of Mr. Sokha’s vehicles was also stopped on Norodom Boulevard and surrounded by police, but he was not inside.

Armed police gather at the CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters on Thursday.
Armed police gather at the CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters on Thursday. (Photo supplied)

Mr. Sokha has ignored several court summonses in recent weeks to answer questions over his alleged affair with a hairdresser.

About 10 armed police officers in several vans and SUVs pulled up to the CNRP’s office building in Meanchey district at about 12:30 p.m.

“Did you come with a warrant? Where is the warrant?” a CNRP security guard asked the police.

“The warrant is with the prosecutor,” one of the officers replied.

The police then walked into the compound, where they spoke briefly with CNRP security chief Long Ry before leaving.

Mr. Ry declined to discuss his conversation with the officers. CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he was not at the headquarters and was unaware of what had happened there.

He confirmed that one of Mr. Sokha’s vehicles was surrounded by police.

“Police stopped his car, but only his wife was inside,” Mr. Sovann said.

CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang said authorities were trying to arrest Mr. Sokha.

“They searched the car to try to arrest him, but they did not find him because only his wife was in the car,” he said. “After searching the car for about 10 minutes, they let the car go.”

Mr. Chhay Eang said the party vice president had presided over a steering committee meeting at the CNRP’s headquarters in the morning but had left by the time police arrived. He declined to divulge Mr. Sokha’s current whereabouts.

National Police chief Neth Savoeun and a spokesman for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court declined to comment.

Mr. Sokha is currently the CNRP’s top official in Cambodia. Party president Sam Rainsy has been in self-imposed exile since last year, when the court reactivated a years-old defamation conviction against him.

The Anti-Corruption Unit has been pursuing the allegations of infidelity against Mr. Sokha since they emerged in late February, when telephone conversations purportedly between him and his mistress were leaked online. Mr. Sokha has refused to address the claims and the party says his immunity as a lawmaker shields him from court questioning and arrest.

(Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter and Kuch Naren)

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Kem Sokha presided over a CNRP permanent committee meeting on Thursday morning. It was a steering committee meeting.

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