The investigating judge involved in ongoing legal proceedings against human rights activist Ny Chakrya has said a warrant for the man’s arrest is under consideration after Chakrya failed to respond to a subpoena to appear in court yesterday. However, Chakrya’s employer, rights group Adhoc, said the subpoena is not legally binding because it was not delivered to him personally.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Veng Hort yesterday would not respond directly to questions about the subpoena’s validity and whether it was delivered to Chakrya personally.
“If he had no clear reason [for his absence], we will take the second option: summoning him to court. If the second option is not effective, we will use the third: arrest,” he said.
Article 188 of the Cambodian Criminal Procedure Code states: “A judicial police officer, a judicial police agent, or bailiff shall deliver the subpoena to the cited person.
The cited person receives a copy of the decision and shall sign the original subpoena, which will then be returned to the investigating judge. The judicial police officer, judicial police agent or the bailiff shall notify the investigating judge of any difficulty in their mission of delivering the subpoena.”
According to a statement released on October 9 by Adhoc, the subpoena was only shown to Chakrya’s wife, who was allowed to take a photo of the document but not provided a copy, and no signature or fingerprint was given.
Chakrya faces charges of public defamation and pressuring the court’s jurisdiction over comments he made during two press conferences in May in Siem Reap, during which he denounced the detention of two villagers involved in a land dispute. Responding to the subpoena earlier this month, Chakrya defended his comments at the May press conference.
“What I said in the press conference was true, the investigative judge and deputy prosecutor arrested and detained two villagers without evidence,” he said.
The case was initiated by two Siem Reap Provincial Court officials – investigating judge Ky Rithy and deputy prosecutor Sok Keo Bandith – whose complaint against Chakrya was dismissed by the Siem Reap Provincial Court.
The case was then taken up by Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
The case has been slammed by the International Committee of Jurists, which branded it “legal harassment” and a “rights violation”.