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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Restoration of Immunity Eludes SRP Lawmaker

Mu Sochua said Wednesday the Ministry of Justice had “turned a deaf ear” to her case because she does not belong to the ruling party.

The National Assembly has yet to restore parliamentary immunity for opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, following a defamation case against her last year, and officials indicated Monday the procedure is stuck somewhere between the legislative body and the Ministry of Justice.

Mu Sochua, a Sam Rainsy Party representative for Kampot province, had her immunity stripped by the Assembly in 2009, after was sued by Prime Minister Hun Sen for defamation. She was later ordered to pay court fines and damages, effectively closing the case.

Procedurally, the Ministry of Justice makes the official request for the removal of immunity to the National Assembly in order to pursue a trial. It must then also inform the National Assembly when the trial process is complete, legal experts said.

Mu Sochua said Wednesday the Ministry of Justice had “turned a deaf ear” to her case because she does not belong to the ruling party.

Cheam Yiep, a National Assembly lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said the Assembly was waiting for the letter from the Ministry of Justice.

“The National Assembly cannot restore Mu Sochua’s immunity if there is firstly no letter from the Ministry of Justice,” he said.

But justice officials say they have forwarded the proper information to the National Assembly.

Bun Yay Narin, spokesman for the ministry, said it had submitted a letter to the National Assembly last week, and he referred further questions to Leng Peng Long, the secretary-general of the National Assembly.

Leng Peng Long was not available for comment.
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Tribunal Judges Clarify Investigations for Two Cases

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, ECCC.

Khmer Rouge tribunal officials issued a statement Wednesday reiterating that there are currently no field investigations into two contentious court cases to indict more suspects of the regime.

“At this stage, no field investigation is being conducted” into cases 003 and 004, investigating judges for the UN-backed court said in a statement.

Tribunal judges are at odds over whether to pursue those cases, which would mean further indictments of Khmer Rouge suspects. Cambodian judges have said more indictments could lead to national instability, echoing warnings of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Wednesday’s statement was made to clarify misunderstandings in the media, the investigating judges said.

Tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen told VOA Khmer that while there have been some field investigations in the past, investigating judges are currently focused on analyzing materials in the case files.

In May 2010, former international investigating judge Marcel Lemonde said a committee had been prepared to examine cases 003 and 004, but that no arrests would be made until the investigating judges completed their closing order for case 002.

That closing order—an indictment of four currently jailed Khmer Rouge leaders—was completed in September 2010. Case 002 will bring to trial for atrocity crimes charges Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

Long Panhavuth, a program officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative, who monitors the tribunal, said Wednesday’s statement indicates the third and fourth cases are in front of the investigating judges. However, he said more information about the cases should be brought to light.

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Assembly Wants Report on Released Former Police Chief

Chea Sim, center, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, Heng Samring, rear left, the party honorary president, Hun Sen, foreground, the party's vice president and the prime minister of the Cambodian government.

National Assembly President Heng Samrin has forwarded a request to the Ministry of Interior calling for a report on the unusual release of a jailed former provincial police chief in Ratanakkiri province last month.

The former chief of that province, Yoeung Baloung, who was supposed to be serving an 13-year sentence on charges related to corruption and illegal logging, was let out by the provincial prison chief and was then involved in a traffic incident that injured three people.

In a letter to the Ministry of Interior dated Tuesday, Heng Samrin requested that the ministry report to the National Assembly the reason’s behind Yoeung Baloung’s release.

Kuy Bunsorn, the newly appointed director of prisons at the ministry, said Wednesday an investigation was conducted and a report has been written, but completion is awaiting approval by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng.

Ratanakkiri prison director Ngin Nhel has said he authorized the release for medical reasons. Yoeung Baloung is now back in the prison, officials say.

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Thai 'Yellow Shirts' vow protest after Cambodia verdict

BANGKOK — Thai "Yellow Shirts" vowed to intensify protests in Bangkok after a high-profile nationalist activist was jailed for eight years in Cambodia, in a case that has raised border tensions.

The group issued an ultimatum threatening to step up their rally in the capital after Veera Somkwamkid -- a former leader of the Yellow movement -- and his secretary were sentenced by a Cambodian court on Tuesday.

"The Thai government has three days to comply with our demands, including bringing back those two people from Cambodia," spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan said on Wednesday.

Hundreds of Yellow Shirts have camped out around the government's compound since last week, demonstrating against its handling of a border dispute with neighbouring Cambodia, and the group plans a larger rally on Saturday.

Despite relatively small numbers compared to their arch enemies -- the anti-government "Red Shirts" whose most recent rally attracted nearly 30,000 people -- protesters have managed to choke off streets around Government House.

Veera and Ratree Pipattanapaibul were were found guilty of illegal entry into Cambodia, trespassing on a military area and spying.

The pair were among seven Thais arrested in Cambodia on December 29 while they were inspecting disputed border territory.

The other five -- including a ruling party politician -- received suspended sentences for illegal entry on January 21 and have since returned to Thailand.

The Thailand-Cambodia border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he was "disappointed" with the verdict.

He warned protesters to remain calm and said security had been stepped up around key government buildings and the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok.

"Do not let this verdict trigger violence, we must solve the issue in peaceful way," he said.

Yellow Shirts are a force to be reckoned with in Thailand's colour-coded politics and have helped to claim the scalps of three governments in under five years, including that of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Officially known as the People's Alliance for Democracy, they seized two Bangkok airports in late 2008, leaving more than 300,000 travellers stranded.
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Protestors set deadline for release of Thais in Cambodia (Roundup)

Bangkok - A nationalist protest movement on Wednesday gave the government a three-day deadline to secure the release of two Thais imprisoned in Cambodia for spying.

People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leader Chamlong Srimuang threatened to intensify the group's street protests in Bangkok if the government failed to have Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaibul released by Friday.

The government announced that Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya would fly to Cambodia Thursday to discuss the cases and other bilateral problems.

'I am sure that both Thailand and Cambodia agree on the need to end the problems between us,' Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.

The border issue has turned into a political problem for Abhisit.

The PAD, also known as the yellow shirts for their preferred protest garb, have been occupying a section of Ratchadamnoen Nok Road near the government's office compound since January 25, insisting they will continue to demonstrate until the cabinet takes a tougher stance on Cambodia.

PAD followers Veera and Ratree were sentenced Tuesday by a Cambodian court to eight and six years in prison, respectively.

The two were arrested December 29 along with five other Thais for trespassing on Cambodian soil.

Last month, a Cambodian court released the other five on bail but refused bail for Veera and Ratree because they faced the more serious charges of spying on which they were found guilty Tuesday.

Both are members of the Thai Patriots Network, an ultra-nationalist group pressuring the government to take a more aggressive stance toward Cambodia on a sovereignty dispute over the Preah Vihear temple.

The network and other Thai nationalists insist the 11th-century Hindu temple belongs to Thailand despite a ruling by the World Court in 1962 that the temple is on Cambodian territory.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been tense for more than two years with sporadic clashes between troops over disputed territory near Preah Vihear.

The PAD held street protests in Bangkok for seven months in 2008 which culminated in its week-long seizure of the capital's two airports. It has vowed to hold demonstrations until Abhisit's government agrees to its conditions.

The PAD wants Abhisit to revoke a 2000 agreement between Cambodia and Thailand that set up up a joint border committee to solve the two countries' sovereignty disputes.

Abhisit has warned that revoking the agreement might lead to war.
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Cambodian bank stops Vietnamese taking ATM dollars

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH Feb 2 (Reuters) - A bank in Cambodia has stopped certain Vietnamese from getting dollars from its ATMs after a surge in withdrawals, apparently by traders taking advantage of a drop in the black market value of Vietnam's currency, the dong.

ANZ Royal Bank, partly owned by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX), said customers of Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Techcom) had taken millions of U.S. dollars out over the past few weeks.

"We have blocked customers of Techcom bank from accessing our ATMs," said ANZ Royal's chief executive, Stephen Higgins. "They have withdrawn around $13 million from our ATM network, principally in Phnom Penh."

The dollar is used for the bulk of transactions in Cambodia. It was not clear what lay behind the jump in withdrawals or why Techcom card holders seemed especially active.

Vietnamese taking out dollars in Cambodia, well away from the prying eyes of bank managers and regulators back home, would have their accounts docked at the official rate, plus fees, but could then exchange dollars for dong at the higher unofficial rate.

Vietnam allows the dong VND= to trade in a narrow band against the dollar but it has been below the weak end of that band for over four months on the black market. Before this week's Tet holiday it was about 7 percent below.

Another Cambodian lender, ACLEDA Bank, which has the biggest ATM network in the country, said it was limiting withdrawals from its machines to $500 per day from $1,000 on the advice of Cambodia's central bank.

It said it regarded the spate of withdrawals as normal transactions rather than anything fraudulent, but they were also clearly a nuisance.

"We have to put cash in the machines more often. It's disruptive, we need to reserve cash for this," said the bank's vice-president, So Phonnary.

She put the value of recent withdrawals at $5.5 million and said a lot of that was taken out in Bavet, a town on the border with Vietnam that happens to have a casino. (Editing by Alan Raybould); +855 2 399 2102; Reuters Messaging:
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Invitation to Presentation of Business Survey Findings

Small and Medium Business Survey Results on Perspective of Business in general and Oil, Gas and Mining in Cambodia

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency (CRRT):

•WHO: Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency (CRRT), a coalition of civil society organizations with four members: API, DPA, NGO Forum and YRDP, working to ensure that wealth generated from the extractive industries is managed in a socially responsible manner that is transparent, accountable, and participatory to equitably benefit all Cambodians.

•WHAT: CRRT, in conjunction with the Economic Institute of Cambodia, will announce results of its landmark business survey on the state of oil, gas and mining in Cambodia and its effects on the general business climate.

•WHY: The survey reflects the attitudes and opinions of business owners of small to medium sized businesses nationwide. The survey sample represents concentrations of small and medium-sized businesses (between five and 100 employees) in the most populous Cambodian provinces of Phnom Penh, Battambang, Kampong Cham and Sihanouk Ville, as well as from 13 other provinces. The survey includes interviews from manufacturing, services and trade.

•WHEN: 15 February, 2011, from 08:00-11:30AM

◦KEY SPOKESMEN: Mr. Mam Sambath (CRRT’s chairman), Mr. Neou Seiha, (Research Manager of EIC and Project Team Leader of this research study)

•WHERE: Hotel Cambodiana Phnom Penh, 313 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

•To RSVP and schedule an interview with key spokesmen, please contact Ms. Thy Heang, at below contact information.

CRRT’s Communications Officer
Ms. Thy Heang
Office: +855-23-217-607
Mobile: +855-12-500-922
E-mail: or

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