Sam Rainsy Seeks Royal Help for Sok Yoeun

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy said on Tuesday he will write letters to Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Cam­bodia’s King Norodom Sihanouk seeking the release of party activist Sok Yoeun, who has been imprisoned in Bangkok for more than three years.

Accused of trying to assassinate Prime Minister Hun Sen in a 1998 rocket attack in Siem Reap province, the opposition activist from Battambang province is appealing a Thai court decision ordering his extradition back to Phnom Penh to stand trial.

“I will write to both monarchs. They are above politics,” Sam Rainsy said by telephone from the Bangkok prison, after visiting Sok Yoeun there.

Sam Rainsy said the politically sensitive nature of Sok Yoeun’s case may be the reason for the slow progress of his appeal against the extradition order. In November, after the Thai court ordered Sok Yoeun’s deportation back to Phnom Penh, lawyers said the appeal case should be heard within three months.

“It looks as if nobody wants to make a decision,” Sam Rainsy said, adding that several countries and human rights groups were watching the court proceedings and that Sok Yoeun’s extradition to face trial in Cambodia would likely cause an “uproar.”

Sam Rainsy said his activist was in “good spirits” but was very isolated in prison.

Sok Yoeun has denied any involvement in the attack on Hun Sen’s convoy, which killed one bystander but caused no damage to Hun Sen’s convoy. Opposition party officials maintain that Sok Yoeun will be killed if he is sent back to Cambodia. His arrest was aimed more at disrupting opposition political activities than finding those behind the attack, they claim.

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