Registration Dispute Squashed by Council

A commune council in Mean­chey district upheld the registration of 130 people Saturday after one commune official filed a complaint that they were nonresident Vietnamese.

Keo Khemaly, a Sam Rainsy Party deputy chief in Prek Pra com­mune, petitioned for the hear­ing, but said later one of her lawyers had been barred from the proceedings by the CPP commune chief, Chhuop Sitha.

Keo Khemaly claimed that the chief knowingly permitted the registration of Vietnamese citizens in his commune. He de­mand­ed their names be erased from the commune’s list of voters.

“Some of [those who registered] can’t speak Khmer clearly, and some of them don’t have enough documents to register,” Keo Khemaly explained. “But the commune chiefs and clerks tried to help them.”

The council allowed the 130 to re­main on the list.

“We decided to keep them on the voting list be­cause they have documents that we can accept, and because the plaintiffs don’t have enough evidence to accuse them,” Chhuop Sitha said.

Lawyers Ly Sovichea and Kun Sarin were appointed to represent the deputy chief at Satur­day’s hearing; Kun Sarin was to be a silent witness, and Ly So­vichea was to present Keo Khem­aly’s case. But when the two representatives arrived Saturday, two police officers prevented Ly Sovichea from entering, Keo Khemaly said.

Chhuop Sitha said Sunday Ly So­vichea was prohibited from entering because the lawyer did not have documentation proving he was Keo Khemaly’s representative. The hearing went ahead without plaintiffs, Chhuop Sitha added.

Ly Sovichea claimed that he presented the necessary documentation, but Chhuop Sitha re­fused to accept it. “They didn’t al­low the plaintiff’s representative to participate in the hearing,” Ly Sovichea said. “They don’t even understand the law.”

If Keo Khemaly wants to pursue the matter further, Chhuop Sitha said, she must take her case to the Ministry of Interior.

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