Prominent former O’Char commune chief Sin Rozeth and five other former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) local officials were grilled by Battambang provincial court on Thursday on whether they had violated the Supreme Court ruling which saw the opposition party dissolved.
Rozeth and 25 other members and supporters of the CNRP have been summoned by the provincial court for questioning regarding the matter.
Talking to the reporters after her court appearance, Rozeth said the prosecutor focused his questions on two issues – who had come to her Khmer noodle shop for a gathering and whether she had incited people to go against the 2017 ruling of the Supreme Court.
“I said no, I had not [called for incitement]. He asked me whether I had organised a conference on December 2 in support of [Rainsy) – I said no,” she said.
She said there had been gatherings at her shop but these were unplanned. Support for Rainsy becoming CNRP acting president was expressed at one such gathering.
“We just expressed our sentiments as supporters of acting president Sam Rainsy and [president] Kem Sokha . . . we regard them as our parents. Was that wrong?” Rozeth asked, adding that she had requested the court to stop summoning her as it affected her business.
Five others were questioned – ex-commune chiefs Khuon Chamroeun, Mork Ra and Khan Bunpheng, Youm Doung, a former member of Battambang town council, and Dim Saroeu, a former provincial council member.
More than 100 people gathered near the court in a show of support, while some 30 police officers stood nearby as a security presence, according to In Kongchet, a coordinator at human rights NGO Licadho who monitored the situation.
Provincial court spokesperson Heng Luy on Thursday said the 26 had only been called for questioning and no charges had yet been brought against them. He said the court would only take action after receiving a case from local authorities.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the court should first and foremost consider whether the suspects had exercised their constitutional rights before considering whether they had engaged in any activity in contempt of a Supreme Court judgement.
He said in the Kingdom’s hierarchy of legal norms, the Cambodian Constitution is supreme, followed by international law and national law and court judgements.
Furthermore, he said, according to the principles of justice, when an alleged criminal act comes under the jurisdiction of two laws, the one carrying the lighter sentence should apply.
“The court should apply human rights law in this particular case,” he said.