Municipal Court officials have completed warrants to either subpoena or arrest opposition leader Sam Rainsy, depending on the strategy the government wishes to use, legal sources said Wednesday.
Subpoenas have been drawn up inviting or requesting Sam Rainsy to appear in court, said an analyst with knowledge of the preparation. In addition, an arrest warrant and a detaining warrant have been prepared, he said.
The preliminary charges include conducting an illegal demonstration, destruction of public property and involvement in Monday’s grenade attack on Second Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh compound, the legal source said. In Cambodia, suspected criminals can be detained for up to six months while formal charges are investigated.
He said the UN intervention for now has prevented authorities from issuing the warrants. But, he added, “Anytime Rainsy is careless he could be immediately arrested.”
The warrants were expected. After the grenade attack on Monday, Hun Sen ordered police to clamp down on the “illegal demonstrations” and called for its leaders to be arrested and held pending charges. Airport security has been tightened to prevent opposition leaders from leaving Cambodia.
Sam Rainsy has said he fears he will be arrested and since Monday has been staying under the protection of the UN at the Hotel Sofitel Cambodiana.
“He wants to arrest me,” Sam Rainsy said Wednesday of Hun Sen. He claimed that “nobody” believes Hun Sen’s story that the opposition is responsible for Monday’s grenade attack. He said instead that the attack was part of a CPP or Hun Sen plot to justify Tuesday’s crackdown on protesters. Municipal court officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith characterized the court documents as merely requesting Sam Rainsy’s presence in court to “defend accusations, clarify his stand.”
He said the accusations include the “illegal demonstration,” but declined to comment further. When asked why a subpoena or warrant hadn’t yet been issued, Khieu Kanharith said, “Maybe they’re too busy to issue it.”
One legal analyst said a subpoena often is used as a guise to get a suspected criminal to appear in court, after which time an arrest warrant could immediately be issued.
(Additional reporting by Mhari Saito)