The Senate’s permanent committee is set to meet today to review a request by the Appeal Court to strip the immunity of opposition Senator Thak Lany, who is believed to have fled the country, according to two of her colleagues.
Lany has been accused by Prime Minister Hun Sen of slander and incitement for allegedly suggesting he was involved in the murder of political analyst Kem Ley during a July 29 speech in Ratanakkiri.
The senator, in the wake of the premier’s complaint, denied suggesting as much, saying a clip showing the purported remarks had been edited.
According to an announcement released on social media by Senate spokesman Mam Bunneang yesterday, the Appeal Court on Friday asked the Senate, which is controlled by a ruling Cambodian People’s Party majority, to lift the Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker’s immunity, a move that would pave the way for Lany’s prosecution.
Reached yesterday, Bunneang said the body’s 13-member permanent committee – including Senate and CPP President Say Chhum, his first and second deputies and the 10 Senate committee heads – would meet today to discuss whether to send the request for a full chamber vote.
“We cannot set a date [for the vote] unless the committees have decided,” Bunneang said, adding that the Appeal Court’s request was accompanied by “details of the facts” that had been “approved” by the Justice Ministry.
“We will look into the request and at the document, then, following procedure, we will decide on the next step.”
Responding yesterday, Teav Vannol, acting president of the SRP, called attempts to prosecute Lany an “overreaction” that smacked of “political intimidation”.
“If she made a mistake, the prime minister should just ask her to apologise,” Vannol said.
Vannol, who is the sole opposition member on the Senate’s permanent committee, said he would attend today’s meeting, though his colleagues would “probably boycott” a full vote. The committee had two SRP members until last year’s jailing of Senator Hong Sok Hour in a case many have also decried as politically motivated.
Vannol said he had been told that Lany, who he said only has Cambodian citizenship, had already left the country, despite a warning by Prime Minister Hun Sen – who has also lodged a similar lawsuit against Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy – that she would face legal consequences if she tried to flee.
Another member of the opposition, who declined to be named, also said he believed Lany had left the country, a topic which was discussed at a recent CNRP meeting, he said.