Five military police officers in Kampong Chhnang face demotion and punishment for inspecting the car of a powerful ruling party lawmaker for illegal timber, it emerged yesterday.
In an apology letter sent to CPP lawmaker for Siem Reap and business tycoon oknha Sieng Nam published in local media, military police chief Sao Sokha says the unnamed officers, who searched the parliamentarian’s car for rosewood in March, would be “educated” about “parliamentary immunity”.
“The five have been removed for education and punishment in order to make them better understand the law, discipline, professional ethics and especially the immunity of the lawmaker,” Sokha wrote in the September 9 letter. “When finished, the five military policemen will face punishment that complies with [military law].”
Military police spokesman Eng Hy said the men’s punishment could include a verbal and written reprimand and demotion. “What they did contradicts with their duties,” Hy said, while declining to go into detail about how the men, who were reportedly responding to an anonymous tip, had breached rules regulating to troops’ conduct.
On his Facebook account on Saturday, Sieng Nam accepted the apology from Sokha and said he appreciated that the military police had thoroughly investigated the case.
Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said parliamentarian immunity protected lawmakers from searches or arrest unless officers had a warrant, or caught an MP committing a flagrant crime.
However, the government has recently used a broad interpretation of the flagrant crime exception, arresting two opposition lawmakers over remarks on social media, and suing a third for defamation for remarks allegedly made in a speech.