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Court grills officials over border stunt

Court grills officials over border stunt

SVAY Rieng provincial court has questioned two commune officials in connection with an October 25 incident in which opposition leader Sam Rainsy led villagers in uprooting wooden posts close to the border with Vietnam, the officials said.

Pov Pheap, deputy chief of Svay Rieng’s Samrong commune and Sok Sam Ien, a councillor from Bavet commune, were questioned by the court Tuesday in connection with opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s role in uprooting the markers, which led to the removal of his parliamentary immunity last month.

Following the session, Pov Pheap said he was questioned for about two hours over the incident, and that questions focused on his interactions with Sam Rainsy and the opposition leader’s meetings with local villagers who joined him in removing the posts.

“I told the court that Sam Rainsy asked how people were and if people had received a good rice harvest. People told him they had not planted much rice because of [Vietnamese] land encroachments,” he said.

Sok Sam Ien was also questioned in connection with the incident, but told the court he did not know anything about Sam Rainsy’s actions because he had only organised the food for the group of Sam Rainsy Party officials who accompanied him to Samrong commune.

He added that a third man, Suk Korn, did not appear at court, citing health reasons.

Judge Long Kesphyrom did not comment in detail on Suk Korn’s absence, but said he would have to present a medical certificate to the court.

Sam Rainsy has also been summoned to appear for questioning on December 28, but has indicated he will not return from Europe for the hearing. In a statement issued Monday, he said he would “happily” let the court prosecute him in absentia, referring to it as a “kangaroo court” under the control of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

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