Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said a bet between him and Sam Rainsy over the future of Kem Sokha’s treason case does not violate the judicial process.
“The Prime Minister has no intention of violating the court’s jurisdiction,” Mr Hun Sen said on Facebook. “The Prime Minister has no right to request for a pardon for someone who has yet to be convicted.”
“According to the law, a person cannot be pardoned if the person is yet to be sentenced by a court,” Mr Hun Sen added. “But [Mr Rainsy] always attacks me. He did it to trap me, but now he is trapping himself.”
Over the weekend, Mr Rainsy began antagonising Mr Hun Sen on Facebook as the country celebrated Independence Day.
“I still believe that under international pressure, he will be forced to release Kem Sokha in the near future,” Mr Rainsy said on Facebook on Friday. “If Hun Sen defeats me in this bet […] I would like to turn myself and be detained with Kem Sokha. But if I win, I would like him to step down from office.”
Mr Rainsy lives in exile due to a number of court cases hanging over his head.
During an interview with local media the following day, Mr Hun Sen agreed to the bet.
“I decided to bet with Sam Rainsy because he pushed me against the wall,” he said. “If I did not accept, they would accuse me of being a coward.”
Lawyers of Mr Sokha issued a statement condemning the bet, calling it “an interference in the judiciary process”.
Pa Nguon Teang, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media, yesterday said in a video on social media that the bet would affect Mr Sokha’s case.
“It looks like children’s politics that do not contribute to the betterment of the nation or address people’s interests,” he said. “They have been challenging each other for years […] they should negotiate with each other instead in order to keep their honour.”
“It will be more painful for Kem Sokha,” he added. “Do they really have the intention to release Kem Sokha or is there something else?”
Mr Sokha remains under court supervision, limited to a four-block radius around his home, after being granted bail while awaiting trial for allegedly colluding with the United States to topple the government.