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Court tries former opposition leader Sam Rainsy

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday held a hearing for former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who was charged with inciting military personnel to disobey orders and demoralising the army, as well as insulting King Norodom Sihamoni.

The charges stemmed from a number of statements made overseas. Last year, he called on the military to refrain from shooting civilians who will welcome his planned return to the Kingdom.

Mr Rainsy also said a royal election letter encouraging people to vote was fake or written under duress prior to last year’s general election.

Plang Sophal, deputy court prosecutor, said the judge should convict Mr Rainsy and sentence him appropriately.

“There is enough evidence that shows military incitement to disobey orders and demoralisation that affected national security,” Mr Sophal said.

The court then showed a two-minute video of Mr Rainsy speaking overseas, calling for military personnel to disobey their commanders.

Sam Sokong, Mr Rainsy’s lawyer, said his client did not incite the military.

“The speech my client made is not incitement because he wanted them to use their right to protest and demonstrate as stipulated by the constitution,” Mr Sokong said. “On the other hand, there was no damage done to the military after my client raised the issue.”

“I ask that the judge drop all charges against my client,” he added.

Vong Pheakdey, a lawyer representing the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, said Mr Rainsy is guilty of all charges.

Mr Pheakdey also said that Mr Rainsy accused military commanders of being involved in illegal logging and drug trafficking.

“Judge, please penalise Sam Rainsy in accordance with Articles 471 and 472 and send him to prison for two to five years,” he said.

A verdict is due May 2.

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