The Cambodian Bar Association on Friday summonsed opposition party leader Sam Rainsy to “clarify” his 2009 convictions for forgery and destruction of public property, warning that the self-exiled politician could lose his law licence if he failed to appear.
“We invited him for questioning about the court conviction. Is this conviction true or not? And can he receive it?” Bar Association spokesman Yim Sary said.
Rainsy has been living in self-imposed exile since being convicted on multiple charges for uprooting a Cambodian-Vietnamese border post and disseminating maps he claimed showed encroachment.
He faces 12 years in prison should he return, and supporters and rights groups have generally derided the convictions as politically motivated.
Sary said yesterday lawyers found guilty of criminal charges could be stripped of their licences once the app-eals process ran out. According to Bar Association rules, Rainsy faced disbarment or suspension, he said.
“If there is no summonsing him for clarifying [the conviction], the Council of Bar Association cannot punish him,” Sary said. The terms of the citation issued on Friday state that Rainsy must appear in person.
Sary added that the timing of the summons was simply because the Appeal Court had not sent the verdict in Rainsy’s case – made official in June – until last month.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann called the summons a farce.
“This issue is political motivated – using the court to mistreat the opposition party. The Bar Association should understand clearly; it is not necessary to clarify,” Sovann said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at [email protected]