With Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Sam Rainsy’s political fortunes on the mend following his Royal Pardon, those of his vice president, Kem Sokha, continue to head the other way ahead of the July 28 election.
Facing a raft of running and threatened lawsuits, Mr. Sokha received his third summons for questioning from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week, this one for allegedly owing money to a spurned mistress.
Mr. Sokha, who has denied any relations with the woman, Keo Sophannary, 41, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Chan Chen, said he received the summons for Mr. Sokha to attend questioning at the court on Friday, the same day the CNRP is planning a mass rally in Phnom Penh to greet Mr. Rainsy’s return from nearly four years of self-imposed exile.
And as with all past summonses, Mr. Chen said his client will not be able to attend on Friday.
“At this time, he is too busy campaigning for the election and he has to welcome His Excellency Sam Rainsy,” Mr. Chen said. “I will submit a request for delay [today] or the day after.”
Mr. Sokha is ready and willing to appear at the court—just as soon as the July 28 election is over, Mr. Chen said.
“My client is not trying to escape from the court. He is very busy. After the elections, he will go to court when the court invites him,” he said.
The CNRP has accused the government of inundating Mr. Sokha with lawsuits and scheduling court hearings solely to disrupt his election campaigning.
“It is to disrupt,” CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said of the latest summons.
The municipal court investigating Judge Pech Maren, who is in charge of the case, confirmed he issued the summons but declined to comment further.
Ms. Sophannary filed the suit against Mr. Sokha in February demanding $10,000 alleging that Mr. Sokha had recently stopped supporting her and two adopted children after their affair ended about five years ago.
On Monday, Ms. Sophannary, who has stepped into the media spotlight, urged Mr. Sokha to attend the questioning and to have the case over with as quickly as possible.
“I want it to be over soon because I want compensation to support my family,” she said.
The case is one of three active lawsuits against Mr. Sokha.
Survivors of the notorious Khmer Rouge prison Tuol Sleng sued him in June for defamation over an audio recording in which he apparently claimed that Vietnam fabricated the crimes at the site, where thousands of Cambodians were imprisoned and tortured before being taken away for execution.
The municipal court has summonsed Mr. Sokha for questioning in that case twice.
The Prey Veng Provincial Court is also investigating Mr. Sokha for allegedly having one of his bodyguards assault Ms. Sophannary’s 62-year-old mother, Sam Phalla, at an election campaign stop last month.
The CNRP has denied both of those allegations.
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