Senior opposition officials met with party president Sam Rainsy in Manila yesterday, even as the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a fresh summons to the embattled opposition leader calling him for questioning in apparent connection with the case of jailed Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour.
Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Ou Chanrith said yesterday that the top officials had left for Manila last night and had “decided on a few points” regarding the ongoing legal drama in Cambodia that has seen a warrant issued for Rainsy’s arrest over a years-old defamation case brought by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.
“One [point] is what the MPs will do while this issue is still very hot, very tense,” Chanrith said, adding that the party would meet on Monday to discuss the situation, while declining to comment in greater detail on the outcome of yesterday’s meeting.
The Manila conference came just as investigating judge Keo Vandy issued a summons ordering Rainsy to appear for questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on December 4.
“Sam Rainsy, the president of the CNRP, is accused as an accomplice in the act of faking public documents, using fake public documents and incitement of serious turmoil to social security, committed in Phnom Penh on 12 and 13 August 2015 under articles 29, 629, 630 and 495 of the criminal code,” the summons reads, adding that if he fails to appear, another warrant will be issued for his arrest.
The charges are almost identical to those faced by opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour, who was taken into custody on August 15 after Prime Minister Hun Sen called for his “urgent” arrest for posting a “fake” portion of a 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam border treaty on Rainsy’s Facebook page.
Chanrith said the party would meet today to discuss the summons. Rainsy’s Facebook page, he added, wasn’t exclusively administrated by the party leader himself, and Sok Hour may have had the ability to post on it through the page’s administrators.
An influential, albeit unofficial, mediator had suggested that Rainsy could return and avoid jail time by issuing an apology to Namhong, who he suggested had marked others for death while detained at the Boeung Trabek prison under the Khmer Rouge regime.
Far from apologising, however, Rainsy again reiterated the accusation on his Facebook page on Thursday, saying Namhong should “apologise to the souls and the families of the victims” he allegedly “denounced”.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan insisted yesterday that there were no official negotiations to quash Rainsy’s case, nor could there be until he had served two thirds of his two-year sentence and was thus eligible for a pardon.