The opposition SRP on Friday wrote Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, asking them to help self-exiled party leader Sam Rainsy return to Cambodia without facing jail.
Acting SRP President Kong Korm said yesterday that he had sent a letter to the three leaders seeking a resolution to Mr Rainsy’s predicament, which currently sees him facing two years in jail after being convicted in January for uprooting temporary border posts at the Cambodia-Vietnam border last October.
Mr Rainsy, who is currently abroad, is also facing the possibility of a further 18 years in jail if found guilty by Phnom Penh Municipal Court later this month of creating false public documents and disseminating false information on the Internet.
Mr Korm said he respected the rule of law but believed that Mr Rainsy’s case revolved around questions of politics, not justice.
“I do not look down on the court, but I do not think this issue should be ruled by the court’s procedures,” he said. “It is a political issue, and it has to be resolved through negotiation…. I am really not interfering with the court.”
Mr Korm said he had taken the step of contacting the three leaders in consultation with other SRP leaders after reviewing the paperwork and commentary on the criminal cases against Mr Rainsy.
Members of Mr Chea Sim and Mr Hun Sen’s Cabinets were unavailable yesterday, while Koam Kosal, Mr Heng Samrin’s Cabinet chief, said he was unaware of the letter.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that it was important that all politicians respect the rule of law in Cambodia.
“Politics is not involved in this case…. The SRP complaint is against the rule of law and the independent sovereignty of Cambodia,” Mr Siphan said.
“If a layman is found guilty and sentenced to jail, then he is expected to go to jail right away, so why should a politician be any different?” he asked. “Everyone has to be willing to live under one law.”
(Additional reporting by Mark Worley)