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Protesters attack a member of the Daun Penh security force with makeshift weapons near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park
Protesters attack a member of the Daun Penh security force with makeshift weapons near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park in July after a demonstration turned violent. Vireak Mai

CNRP official to skip court

Former parliamentary candidate and opposition information chief Meach Sovannara said yesterday that he would not appear in court today for questioning related to charges stemming from a violent opposition protest in July.

Speaking to the Post from abroad, Sovannara said he was on a mission to South Korea, Singapore and Thailand, and would therefore be unable to attend. What’s more, he added, the court summons was invalid because it listed his name, age and title incorrectly.

“I will not flee. I respect the law, and I will go to clarify [the matter] when the court [summonses me] properly according to the procedure of the law,” Sovannara said. “In other countries, when someone is summonsed with a misspelled name and the wrong age, he will not appear for clarification.”

Sovannara said his lawyer, Chan Chen, would submit to questioning by investigating judge Keo Mony on his behalf.

Mony issued a summons on August 12 ordering Sovannara to answer questions regarding a Cambodia National Rescue Party protest on July 15 during which demonstrators turned on the notoriously violent Daun Penh district security guards, injuring several. A handful of opposition leaders were arrested and charged in the aftermath of the demonstration, a move that the opposition and civil society decried as politically motivated.

Though most of the others arrested are now covered by parliamentary immunity, Sovannara, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Banteay Meanchey, is not.

Chen, Sovannara’s lawyer, said he and his client had planned to appear together but that if Sovannara was unable, he would appear alone on his behalf. He also maintained that his client would not flee the charges, because he was innocent.

“I understand that my client did not do anything wrong; he is an honest citizen,” Chen said. “He [was present at] the incident, but based on the video, he did not do anything illegal. So I [am not] worried that there will be any arrest, and I hope the judge will offer justice for him.”

Investigating judge Mony declined to comment.

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