THE president of Phnom Penh Municipal Court said Wednesday that there were no plans to ask for cooperation from France in securing the return of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who faces charges related to his claims of Vietnamese border encroachment.
Chev Keng said the court had taken no steps to expedite the return of Sam Rainsy, who was charged in March, although his lawyer has said that a warrant was issued for his arrest on May 28. Sam Rainsy is currently residing in France.
“I have not received any report related to Sam Rainsy’s case from the investigating judge, and so far I have no plans” to request that the French government hand him over, Chev Keng said.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Wednesday that the government may choose to push for Sam Rainsy’s return
using “diplomatic channels”, noting that there is no extradition treaty between France and Cambodia.
But he said that any request for cooperation from France would need to come from the court, and would also need approval from his ministry and the Ministry of Justice. “It’s up to the court,” he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Wednesday that law enforcement officials are actively working on finding a way for Sam Rainsy to be returned.
He declined, however, to elaborate on any particular methods that were being considered.
“We are the executive branch, which has to follow the court’s verdict,” he said.
Svay Rieng provincial court in January sentenced Sam Rainsy to two years in prison for his role in uprooting border posts in Chantrea district last October. Sam Rainsy and other lawmakers from his party have said that the posts were placed in Cambodian territory.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court laid its charges in March in connection with maps Sam Rainsy released after the verdict, which he said offered proof of his encroachment claims.