Embattled opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been ordered to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on June 22 to answer allegations that his pol-itical party did not send its 2006 annual report to the Ministry of Interior on time, sparking the Sam Rainsy Party to threaten a counter-suit.
The ministry filed a complaint against the SRP in August, 2007 for the late report. According to the summons, dated June 6 and obtained by The Post yesterday, the SRP failed to file a timely report on its activities, income and spending, bank-account balance and party inventory.
Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday that the SRP submitted the report, required of all parties, after the deadline. The ministry is demanding that the SRP pay 3 million riel (US$734).
When asked why the complaint was being dug up nearly four years after it was filed, Khieu Sopheak declined to comment, referring questions to the court.
Hing Bun Chea, the deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court who signed the summons, could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the SRP has demanded that the ministry rescind the complaint, threatening to sue for defamation.
In a statement on Friday, the SRP said it had submitted the report by a deadline of December 31, 2006, and that both the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Economy and Finance had received it two days later, on January 2.
“The Ministry of Interior’s intention in filing a complaint to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court accusing the SRP of not sending its 2006 annual report to the Ministry of Interior is to disturb and defame the SRP,” the party said.
“The SRP would like to ask the Ministry of Interior to withdraw the complaint … otherwise, the SRP will sue the Interior Minister [Sar Kheng] of defaming the SRP,” the statement said.
Khieu Sopheak said the ministry would not withdraw its complaint, and said the SRP statement only made the ministry more inclined to file additional complaints against the opposition party.
“If [Sam Rainsy] dares to sue the Ministry of Interior, we will file additional complaints,” he said. Khieu Sopheak suggested that Sam Rainsy recognise his mistake and “implore” the ministry to withdraw the complaint.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said submitting a report one or two days late was “normal” and that the complaint was a “laughable” ploy.
He countered that the government was often late in responding to questions submitted by SRP parliamentarians, often taking months to reply and sometimes not responding at all.
“In the Constitution, it states that the government must answer in seven days, but sometimes in three months the government has not answered,” he said. “How does the Ministry of Interior think?”
Sam Rainsy, who currently lives abroad in self-imposed exile, would face as long as 14 years in prison from a string of convictions if he were to return to the Kingdom.