Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Yentieng warns Sokha ignoring summons is 'real crime'




Yentieng warns Sokha ignoring summons is 'real crime'

Anti-Corruption Unit chief Om Yentieng speaks to the media last month during a press conference in Phnom Penh.
Anti-Corruption Unit chief Om Yentieng speaks to the media last month during a press conference in Phnom Penh.

Yentieng warns Sokha ignoring summons is 'real crime'

ACU chief Om Yentieng yesterday threw down the gauntlet to Kem Sokha, warning the opposition leader he would commit a “real crime” if he failed to turn up to court for questioning on Wednesday, and suggested he go to see whether his parliamentary immunity was respected.

Yentieng, a close confidant of Prime Minister Hun Sen, has spearheaded a widely criticised probe into an alleged affair by Sokha, spurred by covertly recorded phone conversations – purportedly between the opposition deputy president and a mistress – that were anonymously leaked online.

So far, seven people have been charged over the scandal, while Sokha – who enjoys parliamentary immunity – has been issued a summons to appear by the Phnom Penh court to answer questions related to a defamation suit brought by a social media personality.

Sokha and two other CNRP lawmakers have also been issued summons over allegations of procuring prostitution.

With the defamation hearing set for Wednesday, the ACU chief yesterday spoke to Voice of Democracy radio to lay out his interpretation of parliamentary immunity and the consequences for Sokha if he ignores the summons, as his party says he plans to do.

“All people with immunity cannot resist the action taken by the government. For example, if the person with immunity drives and crashes with another person, the local police will invite him to clarify,” Yentieng said. “He must go to the police. But if the court charges him, it is only after his immunity is removed.”

Thus Kem Sokha “must abide by the law and see whether the court violates his immunity”, he said, adding not appearing would “create a real crime”.

“Then the court may not arrest him on prostitution [allegations], they may arrest him for the new crime,” he said.

However, Cambodian legal expert Sok Sam Oeun disputed this interpretation, pointing out that, firstly, immunity should protect lawmakers from arrest and, secondly, there is no charge for ignoring a summons.

“For the second summons, police can bring him to court, and for the third, they can arrest him, but it’s not a charge – it’s just to send to the court,” he said.

Given that two of its lawmakers are already locked up despite their parliamentary immunity, Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann repeated the party’s position.

“He will not go . . . The constitution is not respected.”

Additional reporting by Shaun Turton

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.