The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summoned Sam Rainsy for questioning as a suspect in what appears to be a fresh legal case against the beleaguered opposition leader, and also set a trial date in the defamation case against Sam Rainsy Party Senator Thak Lany.
The court delivered the latest summons for Mr. Rainsy, who is living abroad to avoid prison time over a defamation conviction brought by Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, to the CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters on Tuesday morning, said Sam Sokong, a lawyer for the opposition.
He said the summons, signed by deputy court prosecutor Sieng Sok on Thursday, calls Mr. Rainsy to court on October 21 as a “suspect” for “questioning in a case of inciting chaos and affecting social security for comments made on September 11, 2016.”
The summons does not identify the plaintiff or explain what the offending comments were.
“When we received it this morning our lawyers were very surprised,” Mr. Sokong said. “Who are the plaintiffs? How did he cause incitement? I don’t know, and my client doesn’t know, either.”
Contacted by email, Mr. Rainsy said that he was unaware of the allegations behind the new case.
“I don’t have the slightest idea about this new charge, but it must be as groundless and as ludicrous as the previous ones,” he said, noting that the latest attempts by Mr. Namhong to sue him in French courts had been unsuccessful.
“[B]ecause the Hun Sen government cannot decently continue to use this case against me in Cambodia in order to discard me from the election process, they must fabricate new ones politically with the same objective and naturally with the same ludicrousness.”
Municipal Court spokesman Sous Vithyarandy said he knew of the summons, but did not know the details of the case.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he was unable to comment on the summons because he could not keep track of all the pending cases against the opposition leader.
On September 11, the day referred to in the summons, Mr. Rainsy spoke to CNRP supporters at the party’s headquarters via videolink, rallying them to prepare for mass street demonstrations, which have yet to materialize, to protest the recent conviction of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha.
The government has often interpreted protest threats as criminal incitement.
In a separate case, Mr. Sokong said on Tuesday that he received a letter from the municipal court on Monday informing him that the defamation trial of Ms. Lany would take place on October 28.
Prime Minister Hun Sen filed the suit over Ms. Lany’s alleged remarks accusing him of ordering the July 10 fatal shooting of popular government critic Kem Ley, which he denies. The senator denies making the remarks, claiming the video recording used as evidence to sue her was doctored.
Mr. Sokong said the senator was outside the country and declined to elaborate.
“On behalf of her excellency, I will attend the trial,” he said. “We will discuss later whether she will attend.”
(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)