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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Opposition leader repudiates ‘political’ charges against him

Opposition leader repudiates ‘political’ charges against him

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Opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks during a Sam Rainsy Party press conference early last year.

It’s useless because the decision has been made
beforehand.

THE Svay Rieng provincial court has issued an arrest warrant for Sam Rainsy in connection with an October incident in which he led local residents in a protest against alleged Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory.

Lawyer Choung Chou Ngy said he received the warrant Thursday afternoon, and that it had been issued after his client failed to appear in court on Monday for questioning – a move Sam Rainsy scorned, saying that there was no point in explaining himself to politically biased judges.

“The arrest warrant was issued one day after he did not appear in court. This is a procedure to force Sam Rainsy to appear,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said, adding the Sam Rainsy Party president can now be arrested at any point of entry into Cambodia.

Investigating judge Long Kesphyrom, who issued the warrant, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Sam Rainsy was charged with racial incitement and destruction of property in early December after removing border markers from the Vietnamese frontier in Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district on October 25. His parliamentary immunity was revoked in November, paving the way for the charges.

Speaking by phone from Paris, Sam Rainsy said he was unconcerned about his failure to appear at the provincial court hearing, arguing that a verdict against him was a foregone conclusion.

“Whether I go [to the court] or don’t go, it is the same. … It’s useless because the decision has been made beforehand,” he said.

Sam Rainsy accused the Cambodian People’s Party of pressuring the provincial court, saying that he would continue his work as a parliamentarian despite the “politically motivated” charges against him.

“I will find a political way for justice…. I can resolve my own problems, but justice [must be had] for the farmers who lost their rice fields,” he said.

Sam Rainsy is in Europe, having met with the European Parliament in Belgium and the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Switzerland last month.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

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