The lawyers for the four opposition CNRP lawmakers called to appear before the Supreme Court later this month for a hearing over their “insurrection” charges—despite their immunity from prosecution—on Tuesday said that the issuing of the summonses was due to “a technical error.”
Both lawyers said they have received assurances that the January 19 hearing would concern only the return of property seized from the lawmakers, despite the summonses saying the hearing would be held to prepare for a decision on the “insurrection” charges.
Ket Khy, the lawyer for lawmakers Keo Phirum and Ho Vann, said Supreme Court Vice President Khim Ponn told him the hearing would address the lawmakers’ request for the return of their property.
“I spoke to the vice president of the court and he said the court will discuss their property,” Mr. Khy said.
“They have been called to talk about the property that they have demanded back since they filed complaints to the [Phnom Penh] municipal court.
“There will not be any talk about their charges.”
The Appeal Court in September upheld an earlier decision by the municipal court not to return several mobile phones and an iPad that were seized from the CNRP lawmakers as evidence in relation to the violent July 15 protest.
Chan Cheng, the lawyer for lawmakers Long Ry and Real Camerin, said he had the same understanding as Mr. Khy about the case scheduled for January 19.
“There is only this case at the Supreme Court,” Mr. Cheng said.
“When I saw this summons letter, I was surprised…. If it is real, that is a technical error.”
Judge Ponn, the vice president of the Supreme Court, declined to comment Tuesday. Deputy court prosecutor Chhuon Chantha, who signed the letters, could not be reached.
The summonses were sent in late December to CNRP lawmakers Mr. Phirum, Mr. Vann, Mr. Ry and Mr. Camerin, and note that all four, as well as their colleagues Mu Sochua, Men Sothavrin and Nuth Rumduol, stand accused of “leading an insurrection” over the July 15 protest.
Mr. Phirum said he remains concerned that the summons sent to him by the court indicates that the hearing is about the charges, which he believed were scrubbed after the July 22 political deal.
“Even though I got a telephone call from Ket Khy saying it is only a matter of returning my phone, I am still looking at the letter because the charges against me are very serious,” he said.