Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, have accused police of trying to intimidate them by setting up a roadblock and searching their cars for weapons near the site of a CCHR-sponsored public forum on Saturday.
Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district police and military police set up roadblocks at several locations on National Road 4 in Choam Chao commune, Kem Sokha said.
Following the public forum, around 2:30 pm, more than 30 district and military police officers held up Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha’s convoy for about 30 minutes and scoured the two men’s cars after an unidentified person claimed they saw Sam Rainsy hiding a gun in his vehicle, he said.
No gun was found, police and Kem Sokha said.
“This is a kind of intimidation against me and the people so they would not join our public forum anymore,” Kem Sokha said.
As his car was stopped at the roadblock, Sam Rainsy said he decided to flee the vehicle and hopped aboard a motorbike taxi because he was worried he was in danger. He drove to the German Embassy, but he said embassy staff refused to admit him. Instead, he went to the US Embassy.
“I reported the situation to Washington,” Sam Rainsy said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Heng Pov said he ordered the checkpoints set up because Dangkao district is plagued with crime.
He said the officers in charge of the roadblock claimed they did not know the car belonged to the opposition leader, but he added he will investigate the case and punish the officers responsible if necessary.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith blamed police for checking the cars without conducting a proper investigation but denied the checkpoint was intended to intimidate anyone.
Though Sam Rainsy is protected by parliamentary immunity, Khieu Kanharith said “the car has no immunity.”
He said, however, that Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema has forbidden police from searching Sam Rainsy’s cars in the future.