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Immunity bid looms for Mu Sochua

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Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua (R) greets villagers during a trip to Prey Veng province last week. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua (R) greets villagers during a trip to Prey Veng province last week. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The Court of Appeal will decide this week whether to restore Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity, which she was stripped of amid a defamation row with Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2009.

Sochua told the Post yesterday she hopes the case, due to be heard on Friday, will clear her name as she focuses on next year’s national election with the newly formed Cambodian Democratic Movement for National Rescue party.

“It’s my full right as a member of parliament to have that immunity,” she said.

Sochua tried – unsuccessfully – to sue Hun Sen in 2009, alleging he made insulting references to her during a speech in Kampot province.

Her parliamentary immunity was later suspended in a move that cleared the way for the Prime Minister to counter-sue.

The court ruled against Sochua later that year, ordering her to pay 16.5 million riel (US$4,084).

She refused and the money was docked from her parliamentary salary.

Sochua said yesterday it was important the court rules in her favour as she has done nothing wrong.

“[It] should clear all of my legal record. If my name is not cleared, I remain as a convict,” she said, adding that although it was in the court’s hands, “the people have already decided”.

Meanwhile, Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, the president and vice-president of the new party, sent a letter on Saturday to the European Union calling on it not to support next year’s national election unless the National Election Committee is reformed and self-imposed opposition leader-in-exile Sam Rainsy is allowed to return home.

“[The NEC] should be non-partisan, but is in fact under the control of the ruling party, the CPP,” the letter states.

“As long as the NEC remains in its current form, there can be no fair elections.”

According to the letter, the longer it takes for Sam Rainsy to be allowed to return to Cambodia to campaign, the less likely it becomes that next year’s election will be fair.

Cheam Yeap, senior lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, could not be reached yesterday.

To contact the reporters on this story: Meas Sokchea at sokchea.meas@phnompenhpost.com
Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com

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