A SAM Rainsy Party spokesman said Monday that lawmaker Ho Vann's decision to leave Cambodia was not made out of fear that he would be prosecuted for defamation and disinformation.
Yim Sovann told the Post that Ho Vann, who flew to the US on Friday, had planned to leave the country long before his parliamentary immunity was stripped by the National Assembly on June 22.
"He did not flee," Yim Sovann said. "There is nothing to be scared of."
He said Ho Vann would visit family in the US before travelling to Italy for a conference hosted by the UN Development Programme.
"I will also fly to participate in that mission," Yim Sovann said, adding that he did not know when Ho Vann would return to Cambodia.
Ho Vann has been sued for defamation and disinformation by 22 senior army officials who charged that he denigrated the quality of academic degrees they received from a Vietnamese military institute in an interview with a local newspaper. Ho Vann has said he was misquoted by the newspaper.
Senior Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Monday that Ho Vann would have his immunity restored if the court found him not guilty of defamation and disinformation.
Mu Sochua still abroad
Mu Sochua, the other SRP lawmaker whose parliamentary immunity also was stripped by the National Assembly on June 22, travelled to the US that same day. She told the Post that she would return to Cambodia on July 6.
Mu Sochua faces defamation charges stemming from a speech given by Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 4 in Kampot province. She filed a defamation lawsuit against the premier, alleging that he had defamed her in the speech. Hun Sen then filed a defamation suit against her, arguing that she had defamed him by saying the comments in the speech about an unnamed woman referred to her.