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Court refuses to delay Sam Rainsy hearing

THE Svay Rieng provincial court has denied a request to delay hearings against Sam Rainsy in a case that finds him accused of destruction of property and racial incitement in connection with a protest on the Vietnamese border, the opposition leader’s lawyer said Monday.

“I requested that the court postpone my client’s hearing because he is currently working abroad. I wrote a letter to the court president, but my request was dismissed,” Choung Chou Ngy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, said. “The court said that my request lacked a proper justification.”

The court has yet to schedule a hearing in the case, Choung Chou Ngy added. Sam Rainsy is in Europe, having met with the European Parliament in Belgium and the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Switzerland last month.

The leader of the eponymous Sam Rainsy Party faces charges in connection with an October incident in which he led villagers in Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district to the Vietnamese border, where they uprooted border markers in protest of what they said were continued encroachments by the neighbouring country into Cambodian territory. The SRP staged an additional protest there earlier this month.

Two men – Chantrea district villagers Meas Srey and Prom Chea – were arrested last week after allegedly participating in Sam Rainsy’s protest.

Svay Rieng court President Koam Chhean said he had received the request from Choung Chou Ngy and had forwarded it to investigating judge Long Kesphyrum, explaining that he lacked the authority to rule on this issue.

“This is the investigating judge’s task. I have nothing to say because it is his work, and he did not tell me about it,” Koam Chhean said.

Long Kesphyrom could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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