Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRM members summonsed in case that alleges plot against government

CNRM members summonsed in case that alleges plot against government

Eng Chhay Eang, Sam Rainsy, Tioulong Saumura and Mu Sochua (left to right) speak at a CNRM event in Texas in January. Supplied
Eng Chhay Eang, Sam Rainsy, Tioulong Saumura and Mu Sochua (left to right) speak at a CNRM event in Texas in January. Photo supplied

CNRM members summonsed in case that alleges plot against government

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summonsed several prominent members of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement to appear in a case that alleges a plot to overthrow the Cambodian government.

The summonses, dated March 30, were issued by Prosecutor Sieng Sok to former opposition President Sam Rainsy, his wife and former lawmaker Tioulong Saumura, former party Vice President Eng Chhay Eang, and former lawmakers Ho Vann, Nut Romduol and Tok Vanchan. They are accused of “attempting to overthrow the legitimate government” and other crimes.

The accusation mirrors the one levelled against the politicians’ party – the Cambodia National Rescue Party – which was forcibly dissolved in November. Observers have condemned the move as a way for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to rid the electoral field of its only viable challenger ahead of this year’s elections. The CNRM was launched in January by Rainsy and others in order to advocate for the reinstatement of the CNRP and the release of its imprisoned president, Kem Sokha. It was quickly branded a “terrorist group” by the government.

The summonses for all six were identical, demanding they “be questioned for founding the CNRM, inciting to cause chaos in society, affecting national security and attempting to overthrow the legitimate government of Cambodia”.

None of the six summonsed are currently in the country.

The earliest summons, for Chhay Eang, demands that he appear in court on May 23, a request he does not plan to honour.

“I am not interested or surprised,” Chhay Eang said in an interview on Wednesday, describing the Cambodian justice system as a “puppet court”.

He denied wanting to overthrow the government, instead insisting that CNRM is a “nonviolent” advocate for the release of Sokha and the reinstatement of the CNRP.

“I will not play with the court because it is the tool of Hun Sen,” he said. “There is no value for us to confront them because we will never win.”

Rainsy, who had not yet seen the summons, questioned its legal basis.

“Probably another expedient invention by a paranoid Hun Sen’s CPP,” he said via email.

CNRM founding member Mu Sochua, who has not yet received a summons, said the accusations were “nothing new” and were only meant to instil fear in supporters who might want to join the movement.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan, meanwhile, said the summons are “according to Cambodian court procedure”.

He acknowledged the suspects would likely not contest the charges in court, claiming they are “only brave from far away . . . and doing incitement from outside”.

Eysan added that more people will be summonsed in this case in the future.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished