Opposition leader Sam Rainsy testified Tuesday before a Thai court on behalf of Sok Yoeun, a Cambodian who is facing extradition for an alleged attempt on the life of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Sok Yoeun was arrested in 1999, more than a year after he fled to Thailand after being accused of helping carry out a grenade attack on the prime minister’s motorcade outside Siem Reap.
“I was interviewed all morning by the judge so he could understand the context of my career, how I came to lead the opposition and how I came to know Sok Yoeun. They were particularly interested in the 1998 grenade attack and the political situation,” Sam Rainsy said. “The Thai government now seems to hesitate on whether they will release Sok Yoeun or not.”
The UN has granted Sok Yoeun and his family, who now live in Finland, refugee status, Sam Rainsy said. Thai authorities must decide who they believe, the UN or the government of Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy said.
Sam Rainsy sent a faxed statement on Oct 26 to Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra appealing for the release of Sok Yoeun. He wrote: “I can assure you on my honor that Mr Sok Yoeun is an innocent man who has been unjustly treated…because he was a dedicated SRP leader and some of my political opponents in Cambodia want to frame me as a ‘terrorist leader’.”
The opposition leader is scheduled to return to Bangkok to testify on next Jan 7 and Jan 8, so it appears Sok Yoeun will remain incarcerated until then.
(Additional reporting by Jody McPhillips)