Students Accuse Kem Sokha of Murder Over Abortion Remark

A group of university students who have been pressing deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha to publicly explain allegations of marital infidelity, and who have filed complaints with various government bodies accusing him of corruption and immorality, have arrived at perhaps their most unusual tactic yet: accusing Mr. Sokha of murder and human rights violations for asking his girlfriend to get an abortion.

The leader of the student group, Srey Chamroeun, said the roughly 40 youths submitted a petition on Friday to the National Assembly’s human rights commission and the president of the Assembly, demanding that Mr. Sokha be hauled in for questioning over an audio recording in which he can purportedly be heard asking a girlfriend to obtain an abortion after she tells him she believes she is pregnant.

Srey Chamroeun, second from right, is escorted away from the National Assembly in Phnom Penh on Friday after submitting a petition accusing deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha of murder. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Srey Chamroeun, second from right, is escorted away from the National Assembly in Phnom Penh on Friday after submitting a petition accusing deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha of murder. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“We just submitted a petition urging His Excellency Eng Chhay Eang to help hasten the summoning of him for questioning over an audio recording saying that he forced his lover to get an abortion, which is a violation of human rights,” Mr. Chamroeun said.

“At this point, it’s a murder case,” he said, “because he forced a woman to abort a fetus and because the baby is also a human life, so he’s guilty in accordance with the law for forcing and inciting a woman to do something against the law.”

Abortion has been legal in Cambodia since 1997, and there is no evidence that Mr. Sokha forced anybody to undergo the procedure.

Mr. Chhay Eang, an opposition lawmaker and head of the human rights commission, said he would respond to the petition by writing to National Assembly President Heng Samrin and telling him there was no rule allowing Assembly officials to summon a lawmaker for questioning. He declined to discuss the issue further.

As the allegations of infidelity against Mr. Sokha have mounted, the identity of the students crusading for answers has become an issue of intense public speculation. Although Mr. Chamroeun, 24, insists that he and his cohorts are simply university students with a passion for the truth, he travels around town in a Lexus LX470 SUV and is often accompanied by a black-clad companion who appears to act as a bodyguard. The students have repeatedly declined to specify which universities they attend.

On Friday, Mr. Chamroeun said the Lexus belonged to a fellow student and had been lent to him to bolster his security now that he was a quasi-public figure.

“Sometimes I cannot travel by motorbike or other kind of transportation because it’s a safety issue,” he said.

He also denied claims that the students were being instigated or funded by the government or ruling CPP.

“Of course, our campaign stems from our wills, and our brothers and sisters who are students at universities voluntarily join us, so we are getting assistance from our brothers’ and sisters’ parents, and some brothers and sisters who are employed help contribute funds for us to do this job,” he said.

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