Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Incitement’ complaint filed against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy

‘Incitement’ complaint filed against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy gives an interview on French TV5 Monde televison network on Monday in France. Photo supplied

‘Incitement’ complaint filed against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy

A lawyer for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces filed a complaint accusing former opposition leader Sam Rainsy of “incitement” yesterday, despite Prime Minister Hun Sen vowing on Wednesday to sue his long-time political opponent for “treason”.

Vong Pheakdey, lawyer for the RCAF, told reporters that he “filed a complaint against Sam Rainsy for inciting the armed force to cause insecurity to the state”.

Speaking outside of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Pheakdey said the suit stems from comments made in Paris on Saturday and later posted in a video to Rainsy’s Facebook page on Tuesday. In the video and accompanying text, Rainsy urged the armed forces not to “shoot and kill innocent people”, even if ordered to do so.

Hun Sen called the comments a “declaration of war”.

But yesterday, Pheakdey said the complaint was “related to defamation and incitement to make the armed forces not obey leaders, who are the legitimate government”.

The complaint does accuse Rainsy of threatening national security, but the word treason does not actually appear in the document.

“I would inform the prosecutor that in December 2017, Sam Rainsy incited the armed forces not to obey the orders of the legitimate head of the royal government,” the complaint reads, adding that Rainsy’s actions have “impacted state security”.

“We hope that the court will take action urgently,” Pheakdey added.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Military Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun speaks to the press at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces headquarters in Phnom Penh where he vowed to formally accuse ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy of treason over a recent Facebook post. Pann Rachana

Rainsy has been in self-imposed exile since 2015 to avoid a host of politically tinged convictions. Kem Sokha, Rainsy’s successor as president of the party they co-founded, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, is currently awaiting trial on treason charges for saying he received advice from the US.

The CNRP – the only legitimate competitor to the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party – was dissolved last month by a near-universally condemned Supreme Court decision for allegedly fomenting a foreign-backed “revolution”.

Despite the wording of the new complaint, government spokesman Phay Siphan said it was still the government’s position that Rainsy committed treason.

“We do not take the law into our own hands,” he said, explaining that it was up to the court to decide whether or not to charge him.

Former Deputy CNRP President Mu Sochua said treason charges would be “a total charade”.

She said the lack of a specific complaint related to treason “shows even more they don’t have a case”.

Political analyst Meas Nee said Rainsy would be charged with treason if the government willed it, but with Rainsy abroad in France, he wondered what the point of the suit was.Calling Rainsy’s remarks “extreme”, Nee said the personal animus between Rainsy and Hun Sen is “nothing that could help this country out of the current political tension”.

Rainsy, however, defended his comments as simply upholding “democracy and humanity”.

“Begging soldiers not to shoot at and kill innocent people – including citizens from all walks of life who exercise their constitutional right to protest peacefully – is neither an act of treason nor an act of sedition.”

Updated Friday, 8 December, 6:50am

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon

  • Migrant workers set to return from Malaysia

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that 158 Cambodian students and migrant workers will fly home from Malaysia on Friday morning. This is the second flight to bring Cambodians home from Malaysia. A ministry notice said Malaysia Airlines Flight MH754 will