Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy again failed to appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning over allegations that he insulted the King.
Deputy court prosecutor Sieng Sok said today that Mr Rainsy was charged after claiming that King Norodom Sihamoni wrote an election letter under duress.
“Mr Rainsy has already been charged and the case is now being investigated,” Mr Sok said.
In the letter, King Sihamoni urged voters to take part in the national election.
“The election on Sunday July 29 will be free, fair, just and equal as in accordance with our multi-party democracy,” the King said in the letter. “Please don’t be concerned about pressure, intimidation or threats made by someone else.”
Investigating Judge Horm Mengse said that the court will continue to prosecute Mr Rainsy regardless of his presence.
“Sam Rainsy failed to appear in court and we will continue the procedure,” Judge Mengse said. “If he continues to fail to appear before the court, an arrest warrant will be issued.”
Mr Rainsy lives in exile due to a number of court cases levelled against him.
In June, Mr Rainsy said on Facebook that the election letter issued by the King was either fake or made under duress.
“The King’s letter that appealed to people to vote on July 29 [national election] is fake or it was made under duress from Hun Sen,” Mr Rainsy said.
In response to Mr Rainsy’s post on Facebook, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana ordered the court to prosecute him for insulting the King.
If convicted, Mr Rainsy could face up to five years in prison and a fine up to $12,500.
Choung Choungy, Mr Rainsy’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment.