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Court grills ex-CNRP officials

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The local officials of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party were among the 26 summoned in April for allegedly violating a Supreme Court ruling that saw the party dissolved. Photo supplied

Court grills ex-CNRP officials

The Battambang provincial court on Tuesday continued to question the remaining four local officials of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

They were among the 26 summoned in late April for allegedly violating a Supreme Court ruling that saw the party dissolved.

Former Prek Luong, Samrong Khnoung, and Peam Ek commune chiefs; Ny Romduol, Poeuk Lom, Sun Chamroeun, and first deputy chief of Prek Norint commune Sok Sopheak, were the last of the 26 summoned by court prosecutor Keu Bunnara to be questioned.

Nine others summoned in May are to be grilled on Friday by another Battambang provincial prosecutor, Chheun Sophon.

The Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP in November 2017, more than two months after its president Kem Sokha was arrested on treason charges after he was accused of conspiring with the US to oust the government.

Sam Sokong, a lawyer representing the summoned 35, said on Tuesday that the four were questioned regarding a gathering at the house of former Battambang CNRP executive chief Chea Chiv that took place before last July’s national elections.

However, he declined to go into detail as he said it would affect court procedure.

Romduol told The Post after meeting the prosecutor that she was questioned for 30 minutes on why she had joined the gathering at Chiv’s house and how many others had participated.

“They questioned me on whether I had opposed the Supreme Court’s ruling. I said no, I had not, and that since the date of the party’s dissolution I have not been involved in any [political] activity."

“First, they showed me a picture of myself that I took in 2016 when I visited Preah Sihanouk province. Then they showed me a second picture showing me raising my hand together with other people,” she said.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday said it was following “with concern the situation of former CNRP officials who have been summoned or detained by police or the court”.

OHCHR republished a message from Rhona Smith, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, saying: “There is a need to change the political culture to one that focuses on issues rather than persons.

“This, together with judicial protection of freedom of expression, would help overcome the challenges of the current political situation for the benefit of all Cambodians.”

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Smith wanted to see Cambodians end the practice of character assassination.

“That is to stop attacking and labelling one another, and they need to focus on addressing and dealing with issues, ideas or policies that individuals or groups have raised,” he said.

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chin Malin said while the gathering took place last year, police may have spent that time collecting evidence before the court proceeded with the case.

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