Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sam Rainsy lodges complaint contesting election body fine

Sam Rainsy lodges complaint contesting election body fine

Sam Rainsy lodges complaint contesting election body fine

The complaint comes one day after Hun Sen threatened to strip opposition leader of parliamentary immunity if he did not pay.

OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy lodged a complaint Wednesday with the Constitutional Council asserting that a fine levied against him by the National Election Committee and later upheld by the council was illegitimate.

The president of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) was recently fined 10 million riels (US$2,400) by the NEC for making derogatory comments about Cambodian People's Party leaders during last year's national election. That decision has since been upheld by the Constitutional Council and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Sam Rainsy has repeatedly claimed that the matter is a penal one and can only be ruled on by the courts.

Also Wednesday, 17 SRP parliamentarians wrote to the council supporting Sam Rainsy's complaint.

The complaint comes one day after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned Sam Rainsy that he would be stripped of his parliamentary immunity unless he paid the fine. Speaking at the National Institute of Education Tuesday, Hun Sen said lifting Sam Rainsy's immunity - which requires a two-thirds vote in the National Assembly - would pose no problem for the CPP, which holds 90 of 123 parliamentary seats.

Jurisdiction

Referring to the council, the letter written by the SRP parliamentarians states: "The CC did not send the lawsuit, which was not under its jurisdiction, to the body that has jurisdiction." This amounts to a constitutional violation, the letter states.

Pit Taing San, secretary general of the council, declined to comment on the case beyond saying that the ruling of the council upholding the fine was final and could not be appealed.  

Tep Nytha, secretary general of the NEC, said the NEC is allowed to levy fines against election law violators.

But Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, said Sam Rainsy's claim that the case should be decided by the courts is correct.

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