The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has ordered the arrest of two more opposition members, issuing warrants for the administrators of Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy’s Facebook page who are in hiding abroad.
Satya Sambath, 25, and Chong Leang Ueng, 20, are wanted in relation to a social media post, including a video, uploaded by Senator Hong Sok Hour to Rainsy’s Facebook page on August 12.
The duo, fearing arrest, fled to another country in the region in August together with Satya’s brother David Sambat, who is Sok Hour’s assistant, after Prime Minister Hun Sen alluded to “conspirators” in the Sam Rainsy Party senator’s case.
The group has since applied for asylum in the West. They are yet to receive a determination, an opposition source said yesterday.
CNRP spokesman Yim So-vann said the three men, according to their families, were “OK”.
According to the two warrants, signed by investigating judge Kor Vandy and dated November 19 but obtained yesterday, the pair is accused of incitement and conspiring to forge and use forged public documents.
In one warrant, Vandy, who could not be contacted yesterday, states police had confirmed the escape of “Satya Sambath or Sambath Satya” and there was enough information to order an arrest.
“Therefore, [the court] orders public forces to pursue an arrest and bring [the person with the] above name to allow Phnom Penh Municipal Court to take legal action,” it read.
Minus the conspiracy element, the charges are the same as those levelled against Sok Hour, who was arrested on August 15 and faces a potential 17-year prison term.
The charges relate to a “fake” version of a 1979 border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam, presented by Sok Hour in the clip, in which the countries purport to agree to dissolve their borders.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who called for Sok Hour’s arrest, dubbed the post “treasonous”.
The new warrants were issued less than a week after the same court ordered the arrest of CNRP leader Sam Rainsy over a long-dormant 2011 conviction for defaming Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on November 13.
Stripped of his lawmaker status by the parliament’s permanent committee, Rainsy, who faces two years in prison for the defamation conviction and has also been summonsed over Sok Hour’s case, has opted for self-exile in Europe, having been abroad when the arrest warrant emerged.
In the past six weeks, the CNRP has also seen two of its lawmakers beaten outside parliament by men attending a pro-CPP protest and its deputy president Kem Sokha ousted as the National Assembly’s first vice president in a legally dubious plenary vote boycotted by opposition.
Yesterday, hopes that the parties could resolve the current tensions diminished even further, with a CPP spokesman ruling out negotiations on reinstating Rainsy or Sokha.
CNRP spokesman Eng Chhay Eang said the opposition would continue to entreat the CPP to negotiate and would not set preconditions on future talks.
Responding to the new warrants, Chhay Eang said that, yet again, the judiciary’s lack of independence was on show.
“It is the same story, the [court] does everything as it wishes; it does not follow the law,” he said.