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Lawmaker Um Sam An mute for court’s questioning

Authorities escort jailed opposition lawmaker Um Sam An at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
Authorities escort jailed opposition lawmaker Um Sam An at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Pha Lina

Lawmaker Um Sam An mute for court’s questioning

Imprisoned CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An – accused of committing “incitement” by claiming the government ceded territory to Vietnam – yesterday availed himself of his right to silence during questioning by a judge, his lawyer said.

Sam An, who last year spearheaded a campaign to draw attention to alleged Vietnamese encroachment, was grilled by Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Top Chhun Heng for one hour, said his attorney Sam Sokong.

“He sat in front of the judge, two court clerks and two of his lawyers but he declined all questions,” Sokong said. “He said his arrest was against the constitution as the parliament has not stripped him of his immunity.”

Sam An would answer questions only if parliament voted to remove his immunity, he said.

Sam An, arrested in April, faces a maximum five-year term.

The accusations relate to comments made in a Facebook post, and officials argued they could legally arrest the lawmaker for committing a flagrant offence because the comments were still online.

Court spokesman Ly Sophana said by staying silent Sam An had “lost the opportunity” to provide evidence.

As Sam An is held on misdemeanour charges, the court has four months before a trial must be held, bail granted or the case dropped, Sokong said.

“If there is no parliament decision, we will request the court drop the charge and let him go free without conditions,” he said.

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