A senior police official yesterday said officers nationwide were seeking to arrest opposition senator Hong Sok Hour despite his parliamentary immunity, confirming an arrest warrant had been issued on Thursday, just hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the lawmaker of treason over a Facebook post.
Deputy National Police Commissioner Chhay Sinarith said the warrant, issued by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, had been circulated to officers around the country in a bid to find Sok Hour, who went into hiding after the premier called for his arrest.
“We don’t know where he’s hiding, but if he shows up, he will be sent to court,” Sinarith said.
Although the Ministry of Justice has yet to request a Senate vote to revoke the Sam Rainsy Party senator’s immunity, Sinarith defended the legality of the manhunt.
“The police are just implementing the court warrant. It’s an actual offence for which we need to arrest him first and then the Senate will strip his immunity later,” he said.
On Thursday morning, Hun Sen said Sok Hour, a French-Cambodian citizen, committed treason by posting a fake section of a 1979 border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam, which states the countries would dissolve their national borders.
Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Ou Chanrith yesterday said Sok Hour was apologetic about posting the treaty, which has since been taken down along with an accompanying video of him discussing the document.
“He wants to correct the mistakes he has made,” Chanrith said, adding the CNRP hoped an apology could appease the premier and lead to a compromise.
So far, attempts by CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang and Sam Rainsy Party president Kong Korn to discuss the case with Senate President Say Chhum have been rebuffed.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said he had heard CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha and Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng may meet to discuss a compromise but did not know when.
SRP Senator Teav Vannol said he hoped CNRP president Sam Rainsy could strike a deal with Prime Minister Hun Sen upon returning from France on Sunday.
“If the prime minister says no, then there’s not much we can do,” Vannol said.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan, however, said the matter was now out of the premier’s hands, claiming although he had the right to order prosecutors to investigate crimes, he had no influence over the subsequent investigation.
“If the court sees that there’s nothing wrong, then [the prime minister] cannot do anything.”