Saying he welcomed any opportunity to alleviate political tensions, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Tuesday he has submitted to the military court a request from Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers to release parliamentarian Cheam Channy.
Prince Ranariddh, who is also head of Funcinpec, said he had brought their request to military court Director Ney Thol and asked him to examine the case.
But the prince maintained he could not do anything more to intervene in the issue.
“I have no other right beside sending the Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers’ proposal to the director of the military court,” he said.
Asked whether he supported Cheam Channy’s release, Prince Ranariddh said: “We have to respect the law…. But in the meantime, if the court thinks that it can alleviate the political tension, I will welcome this move.”
Cheam Channy—who along with opposition lawmakers Sam Rainsy and Chea Poch was stripped of parliamentary immunity on Feb 3—remains in military detention accused of forming an illegal armed force.
Ney Thol on Tuesday said he could not release Cheam Channy on bail because his case is classified as a serious crime.
On Voice of America radio Monday night, Chea Poch, speaking from the US, blasted Prince Ranariddh for the removal of the opposition lawmakers’ immunity.
“As head of the Assembly, the prince needs to reconsider the case,” Chea Poch said, adding that he had proof to back up his allegedly defamatory claims that the prince was involved in corruption.
He also slammed the prince for Funcinpec’s massive slump in popularity at the polls.
“The prince is not strong, not strong at all. If he was, he would not see his party lose its [Assembly] seats from 58 in 1993…to 26 in [the national election of] 2003. If I were him as head of Funcinpec, I would have resigned,” Chea Poch said.
On Tuesday, Prince Ranariddh retorted: “If Excellency Chea Poch is such a strong person, please [let him] come back and criticize me in his country. I would like to ensure his safety.”
“But he needs to bring with him corruption evidences against me to the court,” he added.