The Military Court summoned two Sam Rainsy Party members this week, keeping at a simmer Prime Minister Hun Sen’s threats against a so-called militant wing of the opposition party.
Thach Phy and Khuong Nareth, both of Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, said Wednesday that they each received summons on Monday—Hun Sen’s deadline for alleged militants to surrender and confess without punishment.
The summonses were issued in response to Hun Sen’s accusations last month that the Sam Rainsy Party had formed rebel force, which he likened to the outlawed Cambodian Freedom Fighters. Government officials confirmed that Hun Sen’s accusations targeted Committee No 14, the opposition’s aboveboard watchdog network that reports on the misconduct of RCAF and security departments.
But Khuong Nareth and Thach Phy said Thursday that they were not active members of Committee No 14.
Khuong Nareth said Thach Vang, one of the first Sam Rainsy Party activists who came forward and claimed to be tricked by the Sam Rainsy Party into militancy, asked him to join the committee in July, after Hun Sen made his charges.
He said Thach Vang told him membership in the committee would secure him a government job, so he filled out the application. Khuong Nareth said he also gave Thach Vang information on his friend Thach Phy, so Thach Vang could fill out an application for him too.
“I was cheated by Thach Vang. When he gave my application form [for Committee No 14] to the government, he made money from it,” Khuong Nareth said.
Contacted by telephone Thursday, Thach Vang denied knowing either Thach Phy and Khuong Nareth.
Khuong Nareth, however, said Thach Vang contacted him Tuesday, telling him to report to the court and testify that Thach Yoeurng, another Sam Rainsy Party member, organized the armed force.
He said Thach Vang told him Hun Sen would pay him to implicate his colleague and told him to relay the message to Thach Phy.
The men worried about their safety and said they had asked the court to postpone questioning until they could find lawyers.
“We are afraid to go to the court because it is already organized,” Thach Phy said Thursday, speaking at Sam Rainsy Party headquarters.
Investigating Judge Pok Pon said he agreed to the request for a temporary postponement, but had not set a new date for questioning.
Pok Pon said he had issued a total of seven summonses but would not reveal the other five recipients.
Cheam Channy, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker and the chief of Committee No 14, said Thursday that his party had not decided whether to provide its own legal council to represent the summoned men.