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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen threatens to lift Sam Rainsy's immunity

Hun Sen threatens to lift Sam Rainsy's immunity

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In remarks at the National Institute of Education, he urges Sam Rainsy to pay a fine levied by the country's election body.

Photo by:
HENG CHIVOAN

Sam Rainsy speaks at a recent press conference in Phnom Penh.  

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday warned opposition leader Sam Rainsy that he could be stripped of his parliamentary immunity unless he paid a fine levied by the country's election body.

Sam Rainsy was fined 10 million riel (US$2,400) by the National Election Committee (NEC) for making derogatory remarks about Cambodian People's Party (CPP) leaders during last year's general election. That decision has been upheld by the Constitutional Council and by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Lifting Sam Rainsy's immunity would require a two-thirds vote in the National Assembly, a potentially easy task for Hun Sen's CPP, which holds 90 of 123 parliamentary seats.

"Clearly, it will not be difficult to lobby two-thirds of the votes to lift [your] immunity," Hun Sen said during remarks at the National Institute of Education. "If you are concerned, then you should pay the money and your immunity won't be lifted."

Sam Rainsy told the Post Tuesday that he would pay the fine provided it was upheld by higher courts. He said the Constitutional Council and NEC could only rule on election-related issues and could not rule on a penal case.

Sam Rainsy said Hun Sen's threat to use the National Assembly to enforce the fine pointed to a lack of checks and balances in the Kingdom.

The president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, Heang Rithy, said Sam Rainsy is legally entitled to appeal to higher courts.

Had the NEC not put the case before the Municipal Court to validate the fine, Heang Rithy said, the Constitutional Council's decision would have been final.

"But the law states that everyone has the right to appeal," Heang Rithy said. 

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