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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawmaker seeks to question court chief

Lawmaker seeks to question court chief

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Keo Near (L), who was shot in the right arm during a protest at the Kaoway Sports factory, receives treatment for her injury at a private clinic in Bavet town in February 2012. Photograph: Derek Stout/Phnom Penh Post

Keo Near (L), who was shot in the right arm during a protest at the Kaoway Sports factory, receives treatment for her injury at a private clinic in Bavet town in February 2012. Photograph: Derek Stout/Phnom Penh Post

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay will officially request that the head of the National Assembly call the president of the Supreme Court to clarify before parliament the circumstances surrounding a number of controversial court cases, including that of ex-Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, Chhay said yesterday.

According to Chhay, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, the letter will be delivered to National Assembly President Heng Samrin on Friday.

In it, he will request that Samrin summons Supreme Court President Dith Munty to explain the dismissal of the charges against Bandith, as well as the verdicts in other widely criticised cases such as that of Beehive Radio broadcaster Mam Sonando, and those involving protestors from Borei Keila and Boeung Kak.

“We will ask Dith Munty to punish any judge or prosecutor who has performed unprofessionally and unjustly, and has always listened to the government’s orders,” Chhay said.

Earlier this month, a Svay Rieng judge dropped the charges against Bandith – who stood accused of shooting three garment workers at a protest in front of hundreds of witnesses – a decision that was roundly decried by rights groups as being blatantly political.

Munty, who could not be reached for comment, also sits on the Discipline Council of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which was established to ensure the independence of the Cambodian courts.  

Sman Teat, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker, said that it was within Chhay’s rights to request the summons.

“It is the contrarian behaviour of the opposition party to condemn the injustice of the court,” he said. 

“If he doesn’t oppose [things], how can his party gain election votes?”

The law requires, Teat added, that the assembly president honour any request made in line with proper procedures.

In August, Prime Minister Hun Sen responded to one such SRP request, delivering a five-hour-plus address about the Cambodia-Vietnam border to the National Assembly.

However, in 2012, only 30 per cent of officials summonsed to the assembly actually responded, despite being constitutionally required to do so, either by letter or in person.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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