The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has charged former opposition leader Sam Rainsy with obstructing lockdown measures and inciting social chaos and issued a warrant for his arrest, according to Ministry of Justice spokesman Kim Santepheap.
The charges were levied against him after he called on people in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province to ignore all government lockdown orders and leave their homes and go about their daily business as normal.
Rainsy, the self-exiled former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, made the appeal via a video clip posted to his Facebook page on April 24. He dared the government to put an immediate end to the lockdown.
“Go out, brothers and sisters! In four to 10 days – if the measures are not relaxed – then just go out of your homes! Resume your businesses as normal in order to earn a living. If we stay at home, we will die. Don’t stay at home. Everyone, go out together,” he said.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Kim Santepheap said during a press conference held on April 28 that such comments were incitements against the measures the government has put in place to break the transmission chain and was in violation of Cambodian law.
He said the municipal court on April 26 had already charged Rainsy with obstructing the lockdown measures and incitement to cause social chaos in accordance with the law on measures to contain Covid-19 and under articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code.
“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued an arrest warrant for this criminal. I would like to call on all brothers and sisters to kindly support the government.
"Don’t believe these incitements from convicts who are addicted to offending people and continue to do so from afar without fear of any consequences,” Santepheap said.
He also called on the people to stay calm and continue to comply with the lockdown measures for the sake of peace, saying the lockdown will be lifted in the near future.
“Brothers and sisters, life will return to normal if you all comply fully with the measures. We hope to put an end to this outbreak soon,” he said.
Municipal court Judge Pich Vicheathor issued the arrest warrant for Rainsy and should he ever manage to return to Cambodia he will face immediate arrest and be put on trial for his alleged crimes.