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Court reviewing lawsuit against CNRM ‘rebels’

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Interior Minister Sar Kheng is behind the court case. KT/Mai Vireak

Phnom Penh Municipal Court is reviewing a lawsuit lodged by the Interior Ministry against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and four others over the creation of an “illegal” movement.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the complaint was filed last week against the five people who instigated the establishment of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement.

“We have sued them for doing illegal activity and creating an illegal movement,” he said.

He stated that the Supreme Court last year dissolved the opposition CNRP and banned 188 senior members from politics for five years.

Mr Sopheak revealed the names of those mentioned in the lawsuit.

“They are Sam Rainsy, Tioulong Saumura, Kem Monovithya, Eng Chhay Eang and Mu Sochua,” he said.

Ms Saumura is the wife of Mr Rainsy, Ms Monovithya is the eldest daughter of imprisoned former leader Kem Sokha and Mr Chhay Eang and Ms Sochua are former deputy presidents of the CNRP.

Ly Sophanna, spokesman for Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said the prosecutor had received a complaint by the Interior Minister, but declined further comment.

The complaint came after Interior Minister Sar Kheng branded the CNRM as illegal and compared it to the terrorist group ISIS, as “rebels” the government must crack down on.

In January, Mr Rainsy, who lives in exile, launched the movement in the US, intending to help the dissolved CNRP join the upcoming national election and unite opposition figures.

He also urged people to protest against the government, called on the armed forces to not shoot protesters and appealed to the international community to cut aid.

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said there was no law banning anyone from creating a movement overseas because it was out of Cambodia’s jurisdiction.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned of taking action against the movement if it appears in Cambodia, saying it was terrorism.

“I would like to send a message – do not come to Asia,” he said. “If you try to be a terrorist, I will do my best to arrest you.”

Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling CPP, said the CNRM supporters were violating the Supreme Court verdict which banned senior CNRP members from politics for five years.

“Those people are guilty and they have to face this lawsuit because we must enforce the laws of the country,” he said.

“They engage in rebellious activity that affects peace and political stability. We call them rebels who failed a colour revolution.”

He said their activity had an influence on Cambodia even though they were living outside the country and they would be arrested if they came to Asia.

“We can obtain the cooperation of other countries in order to arrest them and have them sent to Cambodia,” he said.

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