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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy to face fresh charge in border row

Rainsy to face fresh charge in border row

THE government has again gone on the offensive against opposition leader Sam Rainsy, saying he will soon face charges of falsifying public documents in order to support allegations of Vietnamese territorial encroachments.

Var Kimhong, Cambodia’s chief border negotiator, said at a press conference on Monday that the government had lost patience with the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) president and his “exaggerations” about the situation on the Vietnamese border.

“The SRP is not confused about the situation. Their purpose is to twist our work and criticise the government very strongly,” he said. “This is a national betrayal. The government will sue him again on accusations of faking public documents.” He did not mention when the charges would be laid, saying only that the case had been forwarded on to government lawyers.

Last month, the SRP posted on its Web site what it described as “unprecedented evidence” that Vietnamese border markers 184, 185, 186 and 187 were placed well inside Cambodia’s legal territory as defined by French and American maps.

On January 27, Sam Rainsy was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison and fined 8 million riels (around US$1,927) for joining villagers in uprooting six temporary border markers in October. The villagers said the markers were placed in the rice fields by Vietnamese authorities.

On Monday, Var Kimhong also challenged Sam Rainsy’s claim that Vietnamese border officials had uprooted the four posts in response to the SRP’s allegations, saying they had excavated certain sections of the border in the course of the joint demarcation process. “The Vietnamese did not pull up the posts because we have not planted any posts yet.... If Sam Rainsy has evidence of this, please show us,” he said. “We cannot tolerate him anymore because we have already explained to him about this.”

SRP spokesman Kimsour Phirith rejected the government’s allegations against Sam Rainsy, saying the threat of charges was merely an attempt at “weakening” the opposition. He also said that if the government wanted to eliminate criticisms that it is turning a blind eye to Vietnamese incursions, it should allow impartial observers to scrutinise the placing of border posts.

“To show whether or not the planting of the posts was legal or illegal, the government must allow border experts and civil society activists to attend the border demarcation,” he said.

Kimsour Phirith added that although the party did not have photos of Vietnamese officials in the act of uprooting the border markers, it had collected testimony from witnesses along the border.

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