An outspoken opposition lawmaker says he fears a set-up after a Svay Rieng woman was questioned in court yesterday over a complaint against him and others that she denies ever having made.
A Svay Rieng Provincial Court summons, issued by deputy prosecutor Orng Ry and dated August 18, named sisters Soeung Hum and Soeung Phearum as plaintiff and witness, respectively, in an unspecified complaint against Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers Um Sam An and Real Camerin and party official Tach Setha.
The complaint is in relation to a June 28 visit to disputed points on the Vietnam border that ended in brief clashes between Cambodians and Vietnamese citizens and authorities.
Hum, however, maintained after her questioning yesterday that the existence of the complaint – the exact nature of which she said Ry declined to clarify – had come as a surprise to her and her sister.
“For this complaint, I asked him directly, ‘When did I make the complaint? And what did I file the complaint about?’” Hum said in an interview yesterday. “They said, ‘[You] filed it over the Vietnamese beating you when Mr Real Camerin led [supporters to the border]’.”
Hum acknowledges having been beaten during the clashes, but said she had never filed a complaint, though Ry continued to question her as to whether Camerin had led the contingent to the border.
“I answered that I didn’t know. When the court summons mentioned me as plaintiff, I asked back ‘What did I file it about?’” she said, adding that court officials then asked if she wanted to seek compensation from the CNRP lawmakers, telling her that they could initiate proceedings against them.
In response, Hum said she was not interested in filing a complaint. Deputy prosecutor Ry could not be reached yesterday.
CNRP provincial councillor Meas Kheng said he had received the same account from the sisters yesterday, as did Nouth Bopinnaroth, provincial coordinator with rights group Licadho.
“We don’t understand. It says that she is the plaintiff, but she came to my office and said she knows nothing. [We] don’t know where the court got the complaint,” Bopinnaroth said, before calling on the court to clarify the circumstances surrounding the case.
Um Sam An, one of the lawmakers named in the purported complaint, said yesterday that the summonses could be the beginnings of an attempt to see him and his colleagues jailed, and that more were likely to follow. “Now the [court] has summonsed her first. After that, I believe the [court] will summon more from my group. However, [we] have immunity, except Tach Setha,’’ he said.
Unlike lawmakers Sam An and Camerin, who enjoy parliamentary immunity, Setha is an adviser to party deputy president Kem Sokha.
“This could be a set-up. Yuon beat up [Khmers], so Khmer authorities must condemn them, but now they’re suing Khmers,” Sam An said, using a term for the Vietnamese often considered derogatory. “This is a strange story.”