Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued a summons for Royal Academy of Cambodia president Sok Touch to appear before it on Friday over alleged incitement and abuse of power.
The lawsuit was brought by the Khmer Rise Party after Mr Touch said its thumbprint movement, which the party initiated in August to reclaim Koh Tral Island from Vietnam, was politically motivated.
A court order dated May 2 and issued by deputy prosecutor Va Sakada orders Mr Touch to appear at the court on Friday morning to respond to KRP’s complaint.
“Please come on time and bring any relevant documents you [Mr Touch] have with you,” Mr Sakada wrote in the court order.
Mr Touch yesterday said he was surprised over the summons, although he would appear before the court on time to give his response to the complaint.
“This is an unusual complaint against me and I have never been summoned before,” he said. “No matter how busy I am as a civil servant, I will appear in court on time.”
Mr Touch noted he would explain the deputy prosecutor that the KRP’s thumbprint movement to reclaim Koh Tral is not realistic, adding that the campaign itself will likely stir animosity that could lead to renewed conflict between Cambodia and Vietnam.
“I stand by my words. It’s impossible for such a campaign to achieve its goal,” he said. “The movement will only cause social unrest and instability.”
Khmer Rise Party president Sok Sovann Vathana Sabung yesterday said the campaign mainly aims to address public concerns over the loss of one of Cambodia’s territories.
He said Mr Touch’s statement would discourage the public fear from becoming involved in the campaign because Koh Tral is a sensitive issue that most people dare not talk about.
“Mr Touch is not a child. He is in high public position to serve people, but he tended to make statements that cause fear among the people. He is finding faults,” Mr Vathana Sabung said.
In August, KRP started the campaign to collect 50,000 thumbprints in order to garner support for a call to reclaim Koh Tral, which some believe still belongs to Cambodia.
Mr Vathana Sabung noted that the party received more than 40,000 thumbprints so far but only about 30,000 are valid.
“Some supporters placed their thumbprints in the wrong columns while some did not write their names, so we consider these unusable,” he said. “Our party will keep collecting more thumbprints until we reach our target before taking further action.”
Although City Hall approved of the campaign, campaigners were restricted to only collecting thumbprints at the party’s head office in Boeng Kak I commune in Tuol Kork district.