The National Assembly will today suspend an opposition Sam Rainsy Party member’s parliamentary immunity on the basis of conducting “necessary questioning”, government officials said yesterday.
Cheam Yeap, senior lawmaker of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, told the Post the assembly would suspend Kandal province SRP lawmaker Chan Cheng’s immunity at the request of a court.
“Kandal provincial court has requested . . . to lift Excellency Chan Cheng’s immunity from Sam Rainsy Party in order for him to respond to questioning regarding a criminal complaint against him,” Cheam Yeap said.
The “criminal complaint” relates to a letter of accusation sent by Kandal provincial court investigating Judge Lim Sokutha to 11 state institutions, including the Ministry of Justice, alleging Chan Cheng was conspiring to break out an SRP activist from pre-trial detention in Kandal prison, SRP sources said.
The activist, Meas Peng, who is deputy chief of Sam Raongthom commune in Kandal, has been incarcerated for the past two months waiting to hear charges of incitement relating to a land dispute in Kien Svay district. Meas Peng allegedly incited protesters to engage in destruction of private property on the land villagers claim to still rightfully own.
Cheam Yeap said immunity suspension was not a very important issue and paved the way for the court to invite a parliamentarian for questioning.
“The court – or anyone – does not have rights to invite a [parliamentarian] to question while they have immunity,” he said.
“The immunity lifting is so that the court can invite him for questioning involving a lawsuit.”
Chan Cheng said the decision to lift his immunity was up to the assembly, but said he had not done anything illegal.
SRP issued a statement yesterday condemning the accusations of the Kandal investigating judge Lim Sokutha as false.
“The reason that Mr Lim Sokuntha sues parliamentarian Chan Cheng is to hide his professional mistake,” the statement read, adding that Lim Sokuntha imprisoned Meas Peng without citation and that this was revealed by Meas Peng’s lawyer Choung Choungy.
When contacted yesterday, Lim Sokuntha said he had not requested suspension of Chan Cheng’s immunity.
“I have not filed a complaint against him. I just reported to relevant institutions. I reported according to my skill and the legality I don’t know because I am not in charge of charging him,” he said, adding that any charging is up to the prosecutors.