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Sam Rainsy’s lawyer asks for border post committee

THE lawyer for opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Tuesday asked Phnom Penh Municipal Court to form a committee to investigate the placement of border markings in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district that are at the centre of two separate cases concerning allegations of Vietnamese encroachment.

Investigating judge Oeung Sieng said Tuesday the court would consider forming the committee, which Choung Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, said should include himself, Oeung Sieng, government lawyer Ky Tech and government officials involved in border-demarcation efforts.

The committee would be tasked with visiting the site of the border markings in Chantrea district to determine their precise location, information the court could then take into account when deciding on charges facing Sam Rainsy, Choung Choungy said.

The court last month charged the president of the Sam Rainsy Party with falsifying public documents and spreading disinformation after he staged several press conferences during which he accused government officials of turning a blind eye to demarcation work that he said was robbing farmers of their land.

The charges could fetch him up to 18 years behind bars. In January, Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced him to two years in prison for charges stemming from an October action in which he helped Chantrea villagers uproot the border posts.

Oeung Sieng on Tuesday did not give a timeline for when the court would decide on whether to grant Choung Choungy’s request. “I have not decided yet. He just delivered [his request] this morning. I am reading it,” he said.

Ky Tech said he would accept the court’s decision on the matter. “This does not mean that I support the request, but however the court decides, I will respect it,” he said.

Tuesday’s questioning session, which lasted about an hour, marked the second time that Sam Rainsy, who is currently abroad in self-imposed exile, failed to appear when summoned by the court.

When issuing its latest summons, the court said an arrest warrant would be filed for Sam Rainsy if he refused to show, but Oeung Sieng on Tuesday again declined to comment on the likelihood that a warrant would be issued.

Also Tuesday, Choung Choungy asked that government lawyers alter the coordinates they have provided for the border posts in court documents, describing them as incorrect.



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