Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Sam Rainsy failed to appear in court on Thursday to answer charges of insulting King Norodom Sihamoni.
Rainsy was due at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after being summonsed by deputy prosecutor Sieng Sok for posting on Facebook, accusations that a letter released by the King appealing to people to vote at the upcoming national elections was “a forgery” made under duress.
Rainsy failed to appear as he is abroad and living in France.
On June 5, a royal letter was released urging Cambodians to vote at the July 29 polls “without fear of oppression, threat or intimidation from anyone or any political party”.
The letter was signed by the King on May 18, five days before Rainsy released a letter urging the King not to appeal for people to vote.
Hence, he called into question the authenticity of the royal letter and alleged that its date had been altered by palace officials to invalidate his.
In reply to queries from The Post, Rainsy stood by his claims, saying: “When I said the King’s letter had a fake date, it was not an insult. I wanted to target Hun Sen, who holds the King hostage.
“Why didn’t [Hun Sen] sue me after I claimed this? It is because he doesn’t dare to as it is the truth,” Rainsy said on Thursday.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Ly Sophana could not be reached for comment while Sam Sokong, a lawyer who previously represented Rainsy, said he had not been asked to represent the latter in this case.
The former opposition leader has been in trouble with the courts on many previous occasions, with some cases still pending.
So Chantha, a professor of political science, said Rainsy’s outstanding cases would likely be solved through a political solution while breaking the lèse majesté law could be cleared by a request for a royal pardon.
“Rainsy has been charged many times due to his political rhetoric, [creating] political tension. So when there’s a political solution, he should request [the King] for a pardon and everything will be cleared,” he said.