Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Official files suit against Sam Rainsy for ‘treason’

Official files suit against Sam Rainsy for ‘treason’

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to the media during a press conference in 2014 in Phnom Penh. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to the media during a press conference in 2014 in Phnom Penh. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

Official files suit against Sam Rainsy for ‘treason’

An anti-terrorism official in the Cambodian government has filed a complaint accusing former opposition leader Sam Rainsy of “treason” over comments he made in 2013 pledging some “autonomy” to an ethnic minority group.

The lawsuit was filed by Y Sokhy, head of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Terrorism Department, late on Wednesday, just hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a thorough investigation. Sokhy confirmed on Thursday the lawsuit had been filed. The case is pending before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

In 2013, Rainsy met with a pro-Montagnard activist in the US, and signed a pledge promising a degree of “autonomy” to the ethnic group, largely quoting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Hun Sen and other officials claimed Rainsy had promised to cede four provinces to Vietnam, a charge Rainsy denies.

“The counter-terrorism and transnational crime department recommends that the prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court take the case on treason and collusion to cut land to foreigners,” the complaint reads, adding that the crime affects “the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia”.

The lawsuit also claims Rainsy already admitted the charge in a Phnom Penh Post article from March 8. In that article, however, Rainsy denies offering to grant independence or create a separate state, and maintained the word “autonomy” referred to ethnic people’s right to pursue a traditional way of life.

The lawsuit is the latest in a slew of legal attacks on Rainsy, who has lived abroad since 2015 to avoid multiple politically tinged convictions. His successor to the presidency of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, Kem Sokha, was also arrested on widely decried charges of “treason” in September. The CNRP was dissolved at the government’s behest just months before this year’s highly anticipated national elections.

Ly Sophanna, spokesman for the court, confirmed the prosecutor received the complaint.

“The documents are being prepared procedurally,” Sophana said in a message. He did not respond to further questions.

In response to the complaint, Rainsy compared Hun Sen to Pol Pot, saying the infamous Khmer Rouge leader’s “paranoia led him to accuse countless people of ‘treason’”.

“Hun Sen, who served as a military commander under Pol Pot, is following the same path. He is making very expedient accusations to eliminate any opponents to his more and more brutal regime,” Rainsy said in an email.

Additional reporting by Andrew Nachemson

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea