Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued arrest warrants for eight high-ranking members of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on “plotting” and “incitement” charges.
According to court letters dated Thursday, but made public on Sunday, Investigating Judge Koy Sao ordered authorities to arrest CNRP “acting president” Sam Rainsy, vice presidents Mu Sochua and Eng Chhai Eang, and former lawmakers Long Ry, Men Sothavarin, Ou Chanrath, Tok Vanchan and Ho Vann – all of whom are currently living abroad.
“[The person] is charged with plotting and incitement to commit offences committed in Cambodia and other places on January 20, 21, 22, 25, 26 and 27 in accordance with articles 453, 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code,” one of the arrest warrants said.
The other warrants had the same content for all eight people. It said none of the charged were found at their Cambodian addresses.
“[The court] has ordered the of arrest of Sam Rainsy. [It has] ordered [state] forces to search for, arrest and bring [him] to Phnom Penh Municipal Court in order to proceed with the case according to the law,” the letter, addressed to Rainsy, said.
Neither Investigating Judge Sao nor Khieu Sopheak,spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, could be reached by for comment on Sunday.
National police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun said he had information on the charges but could not comment as the case had reached court.
After the arrest warrants went public, Ry and Chhai Eang said the charge were a “gift” for them for the upcoming Khmer New Year.
“The court issued a summons ordering the arrest of me and other CNRP leaders. What do our compatriots think about these summons?” Vann wrote on Facebook.
Sochua declined to elaborate as to what happened on the dates mentioned in the court letters. She told The Post on Sunday that the CNRP officials issued warrants would not back down.
“This is nothing more than a threat and intimidation. We are determined to move forward in our mission to rescue the motherland and our people from a dictatorship. Democracy must be restored. Hun Sen is responsible for the economy and any form of sanctions imposed by the EU, the US and others,” she said.
The charged were eight of 24 former CNRP permanent committee members. On January 21, they held a meeting in Lowell, Massachusetts in the US to prepare the return of Rainsy to Cambodia, including collecting money and creating a network to welcome him back.
“I just saw the summons sent to me via Messenger. I was surprised with the content, which ordered the of arrest me and seven other CNRP colleagues,” Chanrith said on Sunday.
He said the meeting in Lowell on January 20 was the first after Rainsy was selected as “acting president” of the CNRP.
“But the charges of plotting and incitement to commit offences, I don’t know the reasons for these charges,” he told The Post.
According to the Criminal Code, “incitement to commit offences” carries a sentence of between six months and two years in prison, while “plotting” is punishable by five to 10 years in jail.