Kandal Provincial Court has charged an opposition Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, deputy commune chief and their lawyer with evading the law, the court’s prosecutor said yesterday.
SRP lawmaker Chan Cheng had his parliamentary immunity stripped in a landslide vote of the National Assembly last week in connection with the allegation he aided and abetted a prison escapee.
“We charged them on Friday last week. We charged three persons. Meas Peng was charged with escaping from prison, parliamentarian Chan Cheng and lawyer Choung Choungy were charged with aiding and abetting his escape,” Kandal’s prosecutor, Ouk Kimsith, said.
Kien Svay district’s Bantey Dek commune deputy chief Meas Peng was accused of masterminding a violent protest against a property owner embroiled in a land dispute.
He was summoned for questioning in connection with the incident on September 23, and while being questioned by Judge Lim Sokuntha, the judge told Meas Peng he was under arrest and sent him to prison.
The judge did not issue any arrest warrant or associated paperwork and when Meas Peng’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, arrived at the prison, he said that he and his client walked out and drove off in Chan Cheng’s car.
“The charge is an abuse of law,” Choung Choungy told the Post. “My client did not escape from prison – he freely walked out ... because there were no papers to detain him.
“That is not an ‘escape’ – an escape is to run.
“I am not afraid to face the charges,” he said. “I want to know to what level that prosecutor [Ouk Kimsith] and judge [Lim Sokuntha] will abuse the law.”
Judge Lim Sokuntha defended his procedure for sending Meas Peng to detention and said he has the legal power to immediately send people for arrest after questioning them.
“It is not difficult for judges to issue the warrant for detention,” Lim Sokuntha told the Post. “When I decide to detain in the questioning room, if the suspect runs out of the room right then, they are still a detainee, even though I have not signed a warrant.”
Meas Peng, now in hiding, said he had never escaped detention, but merely walked out of the facility after his lawyer requested his release.
“It is very unjust, and I would rather commit suicide than have this injustice,” Meas Peng said.
Lawmaker Chan Cheng was not available for comment yesterday.