A woman rumored to be a mistress of CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha has been summoned to appear before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after police submitted a report to prosecutors accusing her of giving false testimony and being a “prostitute,” according to a court warrant seen on Friday.
The warrant, which was issued on March 22, orders hairdresser Khom Chandaraty—who has been ensnared in a sex scandal after being named as the woman heard speaking with Mr. Sokha in a series of intimate and sometimes sexually explicit recordings leaked online last month—to appear in court on April 8 to answer questions about her alleged crimes.
The document is signed by deputy prosecutor Sieng Sok. Asked for a comment on Friday, Mr. Sok hung up on a reporter.
Ms. Chandaraty, who has vehemently denied having an affair with Mr. Sokha, was interrogated by the Interior Ministry’s anti-terrorism department last month over a defamation complaint filed by anti-government activist Thy Sovantha, whose name is mentioned by the man and woman heard speaking in one of the leaked recordings.
It is unclear why anti-terror police became involved in the case, but the department has taken it on with seeming gusto. Department director Y Sok Khy confirmed on Friday that he had written to the municipal court saying that police believed Ms. Chandaraty was guilty of prostitution and giving false testimony, although neither crime was the subject of the initial complaint by Ms. Sovantha.
“For the first step, we sent a report to the court prosecutor,” he said. “The second step is that we will implement whatever the court orders.”
Ms. Chandaraty’s lawyer, Try Chhuon, confirmed that her client had been summoned to court, but said she was not yet sure whether she would appear.
Ny Sokha, head of monitoring for rights group Adhoc, which is providing legal advice and representation to Ms. Chandaraty, said the summons was inappropriate and that neither proposed charge was applicable in the case.
Under the Criminal Code, only witnesses who have taken an oath before a court of law or a judicial police officer can be prosecuted for giving false testimony, he said, pointing out that Ms. Chandaraty had been questioned as a suspect and had not sworn an oath.
“None of the claims made by a suspect can be included in ‘giving false testimony,’” he said, adding that even if Ms. Chandaraty had been involved with Mr. Sokha, that would not constitute prostitution.
Also on Friday, a group of students agitating for Mr. Sokha to come clean about the alleged affair protested outside the CNRP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh, as they have several times before in recent weeks.
The latest demonstration was held to protest a lawsuit the CNRP has threatened to file against the students for violating the party’s intellectual property rights. The leader of the students, Srey Chamroeun, said he was frustrated that the group’s efforts to deliver a petition to the party had been fruitless.
“We went to CNRP headquarters, but we were faced with CNRP supporters who used very insulting words for us,” he said.
“It’s so ridiculous that there were no CNRP officials at their office from around 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. to accept our petition. This proves that they are irresponsible people,” he added.
CNRP officials could not be reached for comment.
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