Warrant Issued Calling Sam Rainsy To Court

The Svay Rieng Provincial Court quietly issued a warrant this week instructing police to bring opposition party leader Sam Rainsy to the court after he failed to appear for questioning before a judge on his criminal case, officials confirmed yesterday.

Facing charges of inciting racial discrimination and intentionally damaging property, Mr Rainsy was slated to appear before the court’s Investigating Judge Long Kes­phyrum on Monday but an­nounced he would forgo the hearing. His absence prompted the court to issue the apprehension order on Tuesday.

“They issued the arrest warrant to bring him back to the court for questioning,” said Council of Min­isters spokes­man Phay Siphan. “The investigating judges have to fulfill their duties.”

Mr Siphan said the document did not order police to imprison the lawmaker but to simply bring him to the courthouse. Mr Rainsy remained in Paris yesterday.

The court’s prosecutor Keo Sothea also confirmed the release of the document, saying it was given yesterday to Mr Rainsy’s attorney, Choung Chou Ngy, while he was in Svay Rieng City. Mr Sothea declined to discuss specifics of the court order and referred questions to Mr Chou Ngy.

“Right now the court is still continuing its process,” he said.

Mr Chou Ngy appeared in place of Mr Rainsy and asked the court to delay the preliminary hearing for an unspecified amount of time. The court rejected his last-minute request.

Mr Chou Ngy said the document he received ordered police to detain Mr Rainsy and take him to the court. Driving back to Phnom Penh, the attorney said he was busy and could not explain further.

The charges before Mr Rainsy stem from an Oct 25 visit he un­dertook to Chantrea district’s Sam­raong commune. There, he crit­icized both Vietnamese and Cam­bodian officials for their handling of the border demarcation after villagers complained of en­croachment on their rice fields. Mr Rainsy is also accused of uprooting six demarcation poles placed in a farmer’s field along the border.

The 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 in October.

Yim Sovann, SRP spokesman, said he had only heard of the court order through media re­ports and telephone calls from journalists.

“But so far we have not received anything,” he said.

Mr Sovann said news of the order was expected and that the SRP believes an arrest warrant ordering Mr Rainsy to be taken to jail will soon follow. He said Mr Rainsy will not appear at the court since the party believes it is a tool of the ruling party.

“Sam Rainsy will not appear in the court,” he said. “We do not trust this court.”


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