PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday rejected a request to delay the scheduled questioning of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who had been summoned to appear pending charges of falsifying public documents and spreading disinformation.
Choung Chou Ngy, Sam Rainsy’s defence attorney, said the court had rejected his request for a delay after ruling that Sam Rainsy did not have a valid reason to miss the hearing, and that Choung Chou Ngy had been late in applying for a delay. Sam Rainsy is currently in France avoiding a two-year prison term handed down in absentia by the Svay Rieng provincial court in January.
Choung Chou Ngy said that after receiving the summons last Friday, the three-day weekend prevented him from applying for a delay until Tuesday morning.
“I could not do anything on time,” he said. “The time for the summons is very short.”
Deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun declined to comment. Should the prosecution press charges, a failure by Sam Rainsy to appear before the investigating judge could lead to a fresh warrant for his arrest, said Sok Sam Ouen, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project.
The new complaint against Sam Rainsy came after he revealed maps in January which he said prove that the Vietnamese have encroached on Cambodian territory. If convicted, he could face up to 18 years in prison, though no date has yet been set for a possible trial. He was convicted in January of racial incitement and destruction of public property in connection with an October protest against Vietnamese encroachment in Svay Rieng.