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Monday, July 05, 2010

Ruling Party Pushes Against Further Tribunal Indictments

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party once again reiterated its position against further indictments at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, with party president Chea Sim saying last week the CPP “totally” disapproves attempts to “use the court for ill-intent purpose.”

Speaking at an anniversary party for the ruling party on June 28, Chea Sim said further indictments now under consideration by investigating judges at the tribunal would “impact peace, stability and national reconciliation.”

Chea Sim’s message was an echo of earlier warnings by Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose comments have been picked up by Cambodian tribunal judges as well.

Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leng opposes the indictment of five more suspects above those already in detention. A decision that was split over national lines in the Pre-Trial Chamber moved the indictments further through the court process, despite the resignations of the CPP.

Observers say the tribunal risks losing its legitimacy if its objectivity is compromised by politics. But that has not stopped six senior ruling party officials—including Chea Sim—from denying summonses submitted by international investigating judge Marcel Lemond.

Other CPP officials who have refused to appear in the tribunal are Senate President Heng Samrin, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Finance Minister Keat Chhon and senators Sim Ka and Ouk Bunchhoeun.

Cheam Yiep, a CPP lawmaker and member of its permanent committee, told VOA Khmer the summonses were potentially harmful to the policies of the country.

Chea Sim’s statements, he said, “shows that, do not try others beyond the five leaders under custody. Do not touch others, because they were to respect the order of their respective leaders only.”

Nevertheless, such CPP statements could hurt the upcoming case against senior leaders in custody and would be of concern to the international community and victims, said Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc.

“We wish that this court would operate independently,” he said, “without any interference.”
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On Arrival, Mu Sochua Vows Jail Over Fine

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua arrived in Phnom Penh on Monday prepared for a showdown with the courts in her refusal to pay a fine for defamation charges against the prime minister.

“I’ll go to jail, but I won’t pay a fine,” the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian told reporters as she arrived at Phnom Penh Municipal Airport.

She has been ordered to pay approximately $2,500 to the courts and $2,000 to Prime Minister Hun Sen following her conviction of defamation last year in a countersuit brought by the premier.

Mu Sochua, who was traveling abroad to attend the premiere of a film on sex trafficking, noted that the judicial system had been quick to condemn her but slow to find justice in other cases.

She pointed to the murders of actress Piseth Pilika and labor activist Chea Vichea and the acid attack of Tat Marina, all of which are cases where senior officials are accused or implicated and none of which has been solved.

Mu Sochua’s case, which came after she sued Hun Sen for defamation in April 2009, was an example of nepotism in courts that don’t represent the populace, she said

Phnom Penh judge Chea Sok Heang confirmed the courts were working on Mu Sochua’s case, but he declined further comment Monday.

Meanwhile, the city’s treasury department has already reported to the courts that it has not received payment from Mu Sochua, a department official said.
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Authorities Expel Two Thai Bombing Suspects

Cambodia on Monday expelled two Thai nationals suspected in an attempted bombing in Bangkok, after arresting them in the tourist gateway of Siem Reap.

Boonplod Kobchai, 42, and Boonsom Varissareeya, 41, were flown out of Phnom Penh after their arrest in Siem Reap Saturday. They are suspected of aiding in an attempted bombing against a building of the Thai coalition party Bhumchaithai on June 22.

They were sent out on a plane to Bangkok Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kuoy Koung said. “This is because Cambodia is applying a policy of fighting terrorism and joining other countries around the world.”

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told the Nation he was grateful for the extradition and that both countries planned to cooperate further if more suspects were found in Cambodia.

The arrests come following two months of violent protest in Bangkok and strained diplomatic relations between the two neighbors.
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