No details of warrant available, Svay Rieng’s top policeman says.
A senior Svay Rieng police officer said Wednesday that the provincial court is believed to have issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Sam Rainsy after he failed to appear before a judge on Monday in connection with his removal of border posts on the Vietnamese frontier, although no details of the order are available.
Svay Rieng Police Commissioner Prach Rim said he could provide no additional information about the warrant, adding, “It has not yet arrived in my hands, so that is why I cannot elaborate further”.
Earlier this month, Svay Rieng court officials charged Sam Rainsy with racial incitement and the destruction of property over an October 25 incident in which he joined villagers in uprooting six wooden posts near the border with Vietnam.
The outspoken government critic was stripped of his parliamentary immunity last month over the incident.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said he did not have specific information about the warrant, but defended the SRP president’s actions on the border.
“I will repeat that Mr Sam Rainsy has not done anything wrong. Because the demarcation posts were put in the middle of the people’s land without their participation … they had a right to pull them out,” he said.
He said the SRP has long opposed the border treaty signed with Vietnam in 2005, which it feared would lead to the loss of Cambodian land, adding that Sam Rainsy’s current tour in Europe would help publicise the Vietnamese incursions.
“This is a political problem so we have to find a political solution … by speaking to the international donors that provide financial assistance to the government,” he said, adding that he did not know when Sam Rainsy would return.
Government officials, however, said the issuing of an arrest warrant was standard procedure in cases where individuals failed to honour a court summons.
“He failed his obligation to present himself at the court. As a member of parliament, he should set a good example and respect the court’s request,” said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan. He said he had received no formal notification of the warrant.
“We are trying to respect the rule of law – no matter who you are, you have an obligation to obey the court,” he said.