Svay Rieng Court Denies Delay; Warrant Imminent, Sam Rainsy Says

The Svay Rieng Provincial Court shot down an 11th-hour appeal submitted by the lawyer of SRP Pres­ident Sam Rainsy that sought to delay his court appearance scheduled for yesterday morning, officials said.

Attorney Choung Chou Ngy filed the one-page appeal while appearing in place of Mr Rainsy at the courthouse, stating his client was busy on a mission overseas and unable to attend the questioning. Mr Chou Ngy asked the court to delay the preliminary hearing for an unspecified amount of time.

In a handwritten message signed and dated at the bottom of the brief, Investigating Judge Long Kes­phyrum wrote that there was no evidence supporting the request for an extension to Mr Rainsy’s scheduled appearance and denied the appeal.

“I filed the letter to the court to tell the court to delay the summons; that Sam Rainsy could not come to appear in front of the investigating judge,” he said in a telephone interview. “The court did not agree with my letter,” the lawyer said.

Mr Rainsy is currently in Paris.

Mr Chou Ngy said Judge Kes­phyrum did not announce what he would do next but stated that he had three options in the case of Mr Rainsy: issuing an order directing police to forcibly bring him to court, issuing a warrant for Mr Rainsy’s arrest, or placing Mr Rainsy on trial in absentia.

Judge Kesphyrum could not be contacted yesterday for comment.

The court called Mr Rainsy for questioning on charges of inciting racial discrimination and intentionally damaging property when he reportedly uprooted six demarcation poles on Oct 25 placed in a rice field along the Vietnam border in Chantrea district Samraong commune. While there, Mr Rainsy also criticized both Vietnamese and Cambodian officials for their handling of the border demarcation, which he claimed had led Cam­bodian farmers to lose land.

The Svay Rieng court has ar­rested two farmers-Meas Srey, 39, and Prum Chea, 41, both of Koh Kban Kandal village-who were present with Mr Rainsy during his visit and have both been charged with the same crimes as the opposition leader.

Mr Rainsy said from Paris yesterday that he was unmoved by the judge’s denial to postpone his appearance in court.

“Actually, I don’t care about the delay. The sooner the better. We can now better see the real face of the Cambodian authorities,” he wrote via e-mail yesterday.

“An order to the police to forcefully bring me to court is imminent,” he said.



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