Activists’ Questioning Called Pressure Tactic
Summonses have been issued for the questioning of three opposition activists about their roles in possibly inciting people to racial violence and damage to state property, a municipal court official said Monday.
The three include opposition leader Sam Rainsy, whose summons was prepared on Sept 7, according to authorities. But a court official said his case is currently under discussion.
An undisclosed number of other opposition figures are being investigated and may be ordered to court for questioning, said the official, Mong Mony Chariya, a municipal court investigation judge. He said a summons is not the same as an arrest warrant.
Rights workers and democracy activists reiterated Monday that the legal threats against opposition members are being used to try to pressure Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians to cooperate with the CPP.
Mong Mony Chariya said summonses were issued last Friday for Kem Sokha of the Son Sann Party and Por Tei, president of the Dharmacracy Women and Nation Party. They are to appear in court Thursday and Friday, respectively.
“We just want them to appear and to clarify the cases they have been accused of,” said Mong Mony Chariya. “They are not in the situation of being arrested, but if they don’t appear, the court will order them to.” He indicated neither summons had yet been successfully delivered.
The opposition activists are under investigation of violating articles 44, 59, 60 and 61 of the Untac provisional code, Mong Mony Chariya said. Those articles deal with crimes against state property, incitement to cause crimes, and incitement to cause racial hatred that leads to violence.
The government has alleged that anti-Vietnamese speeches at Democracy Square contributed to a climate that led to the vandalism of the Cambodia-Vietnam Liberation Monument and the beating deaths of at least four ethnic Vietnamese.
Mong Mony Chariya said the summons for Sam Rainsy was issued on Sept 7, the same day that two grenades exploded at Second Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house. Shortly after the attack, Hun Sen threatened to arrest opposition leaders and Sam Rainsy sought protection from the UN.
The summons apparently was never delivered to Sam Rainsy and it was unclear Monday whether it will be reissued.
Mong Mony Chariya declined to say how many other opposition activists are under investigation, but he disputed a report that the prosecutors plan to indict seven or eight opposition party leaders in early October.
The court is still collecting evidence, so “I do not know how many total people will be charged,” he said. “It’s up to the prosecutor. My job is to investigate those people and send the evidence to the prosecutor for his consideration.”
Hun Sen earlier had named former parliamentarian Kem Sokha, chairman of the old National Assembly’s human rights commission, as a potential target for arrest. A rights worker said Monday that Hun Sen also had spoken angrily about Por Tei’s speeches at the sit-in protest.
Sam Rainsy told the Associated Press by telephone from Bangkok on Monday that he would watch the developments closely. “But I hope the government will refrain from issuing any warrants or decisions to summon any opposition officials for questioning, which can lead to detentions and so on,” he said.
A Western rights worker said Monday that the summons appear clearly to be designed to pressure the opposition to form a new government. “The violence against the ethnic Vietnamese, while deplorable, does not appear to have a direct relationship to the demonstrations,” he said.
Lao Mong Hay, executive director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy, agreed. “It’s part of the strategy to put pressure on all opposition who have been carrying out activities that could harm the ruling party. We should worry about warrants issued against …Kem Sokha because he still had immunity” when he spoke at the demonstrations.
(Additional reporting by Jeff Smith)
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